Hospitals, HMOs, and the Medical Association, together with the Treasury, announced Wednesday that there was significant progress in the negotiations.
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Also Wednesday, Medical Association Chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman ended his 11 day hunger strike, claiming most of his demands were met. Nevertheless, disruptions that were set to take place on Thursday in Israel's public hospitals will go ahead as planned.
The sides revealed that they agreed on adding 1,000 doctor positions in public hospitals in order to relieve the residents' rotation workload. The positions will be made through a collective agreement and will come in addition to the hospital bed increase approved by the government in February.
The announcement further stated that allocating additional resident positions would begin immediately in a bid to decrease the number of rotations residents are called upon to make to no more than six a month. The increase in resident positions will be spread over a two year period.
The additional positions will be allocated to residents and specialists with preference given to doctors in the peripheries. A NIS 300,000 ($87,000) budget was set aside to encourage doctors to work in periphery areas and in specialties lacking in doctors and manpower. The negotiations are ongoing.
Speaking of the breakthrough, representatives of the residents claimed that they had yet to receive a draft of the agreement. "While the information published states that some of our demands have been met…the demand for a NIS 50 per hour salary is still a red line," they said.
"We assume that in light of the protest and our resolve to resign the red lines over salaries must be addressed otherwise we reserve all our options."
Following the publication of the breakthrough in negotiations, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said: "The prime minister's intervention was a blessing. This is proven by the fact that we have reached this important breakthrough."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Dr. Eidelman on Tuesday and asked him to end his hunger strike but Eidelman would not comply with the request. Following the negotiation breakthrough he consented.
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