The Director General of the Health Ministry, Moshe Bar Siman-Tov on Wednesday held a Zoom meeting with senior physicians to discuss the intentions of many doctors to leave Israel and find work elsewhere amid the government's legislative push to overhaul the judiciary.
After nearly one-third of doctors joined a WhatsApp group to consider relocating abroad, ScienceAbroad , a non-profit that has been working to bring people in the science and medicine professions to Israel, initiated the call and sounded the alarm.
"When I first entered the WhatsApp group there were 30 doctors in it but since there has been a tsunami of over 2,000 who say they are considering emigrating. Including senior physicians, residents and interns," Professor Rivka Karmi, ScienceAbroad chairman said. "I admit I am physically shaken. Nothing prepared me for such a possibility that I find even more dangerous than the refusal of pilots to volunteer to serve. Even if most ultimately stay, this is a very problematic process. These people are exhausted and feel like their protest has failed," she said.
Bar Siman-Tov said he was still trying to grasp the situation and understands the strong emotions. "We all live in the same space and these feelings are understood," he said. "We all know we have no other country and no other health system which is representative of our people and is an example of how we can live together," he said.
"I really don't think anyone of has the privilege to give up on the country," he said adding that the code of ethics of Israel's health system is to work according to the values of justice, equality and mutual assistance.
"Don't give up on us," he said. "Stay take part in articulating the rules by which we will act. The health minister has been advised about our meeting and we are committed to making sure you will be able to make the right calls and prevent an impact on our system. I implore you. We must keep up our commitment to the Israeli public," he said.
In the WhatsApp group doctors shared information about contacts with other countries and where the Israeli license to practice medicine is accepted. "It's shocking," said Professor Dina Ben-Yehuda, head of hematology at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. "I saw in the group doctors I studies and specialized with me. The pain is great and to me, this is more a cry for help and a protest. I want to hug each of them and am sorry that they are feeling this way," she said adding that Israel is already suffering from a shortage of physicians and by 2026 will have the least number of doctors per capita than any other developed nation. "I see people from all political persuasions in the group," she said.
"People fear for their personal and professional lives," 30-year-old Tomer Rosenberg, a Medical student told Ynet in an interview. "I am afraid to go home in my scrubs because I've already been abused by people on the train. They say we are "rich and privileged," he said adding that such encounters although not daily, were increasing.
First published: 00:31, 07.27.23