Doctor (illustrative)
Doctor (illustrative)iStock

Israel has just 15 neurologists specializing in epilepsy, and patients from both the south and north of the country are forced to travel hours to its center in order to receive appropriate treatment, Israel Hayom reported.

"I've had epilepsy for 50 years, and I live in Be'er Sheva," Haim, 60, told Israel Hayom. "For the past two years, there hasn't been a specialist in Soroka, and for everything they tell me to run to the center of the country. I've already been in Beilinson, Ichilov, and Kaplan," he added, naming the hospitals he'd visited in the central Israel.

"Sometimes the medications cause side effects, but in order to switch medicine or do anything I need to wait several months. Every time something comes up, they refer me to the center of the country. During Operation Protective Edge, half the country was treated in Soroka, but they don't have even one doctor for epilepsy?"

Soroka Medical Center, located in Be'er Sheva, is the only hospital between Ashkelon and Eilat.

The Israel Neurological Association said that it transports patients from northern Israel via taxi to the center of the country for treatment.

Professor David Tanne, who chairs the Association and runs Rambam Health Care Campus' institute for stroke, told the site: "Around the country, there are very few experts on epilepsy and Parkinson's, and in the periphery there is a huge shortage."

"Instead of every hospital having experts in these subfields there is a lack, and patients need to travel very far and wait a very long time for an appointment. It's absolutely not right and not fair. The Health Ministry needs to prioritize, on a national level, the addition of positions for experts in epilepsy."

In a statement to Israel Hayom, the Health Ministry said: "We are aware of the need to increase the number of neurologists who are experts in epilepsy, and for this reason we have worked to create a track to train doctors in the field of epilepsy, in Israel. This recently received recognition from the Israel Medical Association's Science Council."

The Ministry added: "In Soroka, there is an excellent neurological ward which has nine expert doctors. All of the services which exist in the hospital and community provide appropriate care for most of the epilepsy patients in the south."

"It should also be mentioned that the training tracks which are being developed will meet the required high standards, and that the training itself takes time. We expect that we will see the results of these activities in the near future."