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‘Finance Ministry is to blame for crisis in hospitals’ says Physicians’ Association head

On Wednesday, the Health Ministry and the Union of Physicians issued an appeal to retired doctors, asking them to return to work in the country’s hospitals, in order to assist medical staff in dealing with the pressures caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“In recent days, we have received numerous requests from retired doctors who want to return to work and help in any number of ways,” they wrote. “These requests are truly heartwarming, and offer additional proof of the extraordinary dedication of our medical professionals, no matter their age or where they are located.”

Their letter noted that:

“Due to the lack of manpower caused by the increase in the number of coronavirus patients, as well as the increase in the number of medical personnel in isolation, the Union of Physicians and the Health Ministry are now actively appealing to retired doctors to enlist in this effort and enhance the staff numbers in our hospitals.

“We are currently in an emergency situation, one that demands of us to appeal to you to come to the aid of our admissions wards and community clinics. This is the call of the hour for every person who can donate his or her expertise gained through long years of experience. What our hospitals and community clinics are most in need of are internists, ER physicians, critical care physicians, general practitioners, and pediatricians. All the same, any other physician who answers our call will be welcomed with open arms.”

The Health Ministry stressed that retired doctors who agree to return to work will be sent primarily to the non-coronavirus departments in hospitals, given that they are likely to be in a high-risk category, due to their advanced age.

This call for retired doctors to return follows a decision made earlier today by Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and the Ministry’s director-general, Prof. Hezi Levy, to order the immediate admission of paramedics into hospitals to supplement regular hospital staff.

The shortage of doctors has been a known problem for months.

During the “first wave” of the coronavirus, back in March, the Health Ministry requested another 250-300 doctors for the hospitals, and 251 doctors ended up joining hospital staff. However, a call for another 400 doctors on July 20 by Health Minister Edelstein apparently went unanswered.

In a document dating back three weeks, a professional adviser to the government’s coronavirus czar, Prof. Ronni Gamzu, wrote:

“There is a pronounced increase in staff ‘burnout’ in several hospitals. In some places, the staff working in coronavirus wards has not been rotated for an extremely long time.”

The document also cited the fact that many doctors are in isolation, leading to increased pressures on staff.

Approached for comment, the head of the State Physicians’ Association, Dr. Zeev Feldman, blamed the shortage of doctors on the Treasury. “The Finance Ministry wants to be in control of everything,” he said, “and this has caused damage to the health system. The real problem is not a shortage of ventilators, but rather a shortage of staff who can operate them. Our doctors are collapsing under the strain. What we need to do now is train doctors to operate the machines so that they will be able to put their knowledge into practice this winter.”

Source: Orly Harari – Arutz Sheva