Hadassah Medical Center doctors announced Thursday that an agreement was reached between the court's trustees and the hospital's management, that would put an end to the long crisis at the medical institute.
After a 13-hour negotiations session, the sides ended the talks and agreed that while 30 doctors will be dismissed, departments that were supposed to be shut down would remain open and some of the restrictions on private medical services will be lifted.
Head of the Senior Doctors' Union at Hadassah, Dr. Sagit Arbel-Alon, wrote in an e-mail to the doctors that "it was an exhausting journey," but as of Thursday morning they are returning to work as usual.
Though the agreement included a salary reduction for 180 academic staff members, the doctors' most significant achievement was the prevention of fundemental changes to the academic staff's employment conditions, which the state wanted to alter completely.
It was also agreed that the hospital will return funds for research and private medical services to the doctors, after these were taken from them for years without their knowledge to pay the hospital's enormous debt, which currently stands at NIS 1.6 billion.
Hadassah workers celebrating (Photo: Amir Levi)
Additionally, an announcement from the Finance Ministry on Tuesday, that the money workers will loan the hospital will be returned depending on the hospital's financial situation and not automatically after ten years, was retracted after objections from the Hadassah employees.
Furthermore, the agreement signed with the Israel Medical Association three years ago, that has yet to be realized, will be fully implemented. The agreement includes additional global hours, a maximum of six weekly shifts and vocational training days in return for the deletion of some of the employees' vacation days.
"The agreement isn't perfect, but we are hopeful that its advantages outweigh its disadvantages," said Dr. Arbel-Alon.
Photo: Avi Hayun
The doctors' union objected to the dismissal of phycisians and demanded that the reduction of manpower will be conducted via voluntary redundancy. Eventually it was decided that most of the doctors leaving the hospital would do so voluntarily, and the rest will be dismissed after a meeting of the Medical Association's special committee and a hearing in front of Hadassah CEO Avigdor Kaplan.
The doctors protested plans to remove 10 beds from the psychiatric ward and for the closure of various departments such as the hospice, which helps relieve the suffering of terminal cancer patients.
The doctors also agreed to limitations on private medical services in the Emergency Room, meaning that a patient arriving through the public track will not be transferred to the private track. They also agreed to raise Hadassah's share earned from private surgeries to 30 percent.
Doctors' protest (Photo: Ofra Angel)
A convalescence program that was formulated by the trustees to bar procedures that are not profitable to the hospital was cancelled. However, the state may not accept the cancellation.
While the two sides work on formulating the agreement, negotiations continue after significant progress was made on Wednesday.
So far, the state's objection to the understandings reached between the sides prevented progress towards a final agreement.
Reaching an agreement with the doctors is also an important step to approving the convalescence program at the creditors' assembly that will be held on Tuesday.