After last-ditch talks had failed, Israeli nurses on Monday kicked off a nationwide strike over manpower shortages during the coronavirus pandemic, which they say have made it impossible to continue their work.
The National Association of Nurses announced last Wednesday they intend to launch general strike if the government doesn't allocate more staff to hospitals, HMO clinics and other medical facilities.
The association blames the Finance Ministry, who they say has not properly budgeted for more nurses in hospitals. The last-ditch, overnight attempts to reach a compromise with the ministry failed, and the government now mulls appealing to a labor court in order to halt the strike.
As part of the strike, starting Monday all non-urgent surgeries will be postponed and outpatient clinics will operate in an emergency format. Coronavirus and oncology wards will not be affected by the strike.
At HMO clinics, the nurses were instructed to continue administering insulin shots to diabetes patients and assisting in fertility, oncology and gastrointestinal treatments. Vaccinations in preparation for travel abroad and general blood tests will be either postponed or carried out in a limited format.
Coronavirus testing labs are not expected to be affected and neither is the epidemiological investigations of verified COVID-19 carriers.
The National Association of Nurses chair Ilana Cohen said during the last-ditch negotiations, the Finance Ministry offered to only temporary boost the staff at medical facilities.
They also suggested that next year any nurse who retires will be replaced right away,' she said. "It's like using a band-aid and it's a shame. It shows that they have not internalized anything."