'Doctors Cannot Go on Strike, On Principle'
Professor Dr. Aryeh Eldad, former MK (HaIchud Haleumi) and head of the burns unit at Hadassah Medical Center, spoke out against the ongoing strikes at the medical center Sunday in an interview with Arutz Sheva.
"Doctors must not strike - on this I strongly disagree with the Chairman of the Israeli Medical Association (IMA), who claims that just as a motorist cannot drive without insurance, so a doctor cannot work without insurance." Dr. Eldad noted.
One of the main demands of the protest is for the staff's malpractice insurance to be renewed, as they have expired temporarily a result of the financial negotiations stalling during the strikes. Protestors have threatened to leave the hospital in droves if the insurance papers are not signed immediately.
"I disagree with him and with the notion of abandoning the hospital," Dr. Eldad continued. "Even if there is no malpractice insurance and they [doctors] are concerned about being sued, they have an obligation to continue to provide medical care."
The former MK declared that, to him, being a doctor is a way of life; a salary is secondary. "I do believe that doctors have a conscience, and that a conscience is actually much stronger than greed," he explained. "You do not endanger lives over your salary."
"I also believe that there is a huge gap between what the doctors are threatening and the facts on the ground," he added.
Dr. Eldad also noted that the previous large-scale medical strike did not endanger human lives - and warned against doing so now. "The last great strike in the eighties actually saw a reduction in mortality rates in Israel," he stated. "Most doctors know how to draw a clear line between threats and real sanctions. Doctors know that they choose a lifestyle [over a profession], and a salary is secondary."
The ongoing strike at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem has already driven several senior members of both Hadassah Ein Kerem and Hadassah Mount Scopus to quit, fed up over the hospital's inability to compensate for missing wages and frustrated over the tedious negotiations.
The strike began last Tuesday at both Hadassah Ein-Kerem and Hadassah Mount Scopus medical centers, as a backlash against the Finance Ministry for allegedly stalling in negotiations to expand the hospital's budget.
The budget cuts have been hurting patients, according to staff who are reeling after a month on half-pay. As a result, the centers decided to close their doors Tuesday, operating on the schedule normally reserved for Shabbat and holidays.
Sunday marks one last push by staff for the crisis to be resolved, as the staff has planned a mass walk-out in most departments for Sunday afternoon. Reports indicate that this will be the last drastic move over salary cuts, over concerns that continued action could endanger patients' lives.