Doctors Back on Strike

Hospitals are on Sabbath schedules as doctors go back on strike after talks collapse with the Finance Ministry. Nurses join in.

Chana Ya'ar , | updated: 10:50

Haifa hospital
Haifa hospital
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Public hospitals are on Sabbath schedules as doctors go back on strike following another collapse of talks with the Finance Ministry, according to the Israel Medical Association (IMA).

Doctors began striking Wednesday, curtailing various medical services at public hospitals. Only skeleton crews are on duty, and no elective surgeries are being performed.

Only treatments for cancer will be performed, the union said.

For two days, doctors sat home last week as the union held a warning strike after negotiations stalled.

However, due to the increased rocket and mortar attacks in the south, Ashkelon's Barzilai Medical Center did not participate.

Doctors are seeking a 50 percent wage hike and an increase in the number of hospital beds for the first time since 1976. Finance Ministry officials had offered an 18 percent salary raise over an eight year period.

The Finance Ministry accused the doctors' union of ignoring patients' needs and said the standoff would continue until the union backs down.

“We are ready to handle the real problems of public health, but until doctors remove their demands for a raise there will be no progress in negotiations,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement.

A number of medical institutions have appealed to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, asking him to intervene.

Nurses at Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital are joining the walkout in a sympathy strike after a staff member was violently attacked while treating a patient. Some 2,000 nurses have said they will rally on Wednesday afternoon to protest their working conditions.