More than 2,600 medical residents resigned from their hospital positions en masse Thursday, October 7, to protest the 26-hour shifts they are forced to work, telling the far-right government that it is in the national interest that patients in hospitals be treated by doctors who are not too exhausted to provide proper care. The resignation came a day after the residents rejected a government proposal to gradually reduce shifts to 18 hours by 2026, but only for 10% of the interns.
The doctors training in the areas of their specialization signed off on a letter that was delivered to the Tel Aviv District Health office by Dr. Rey Biton, head of Mirsham, an organization representing medical residents. “Ninety percent of interns will continue to work shifts of 26 consecutive hours,” Biton said. “Our demand to include internal-medicine, coronavirus and emergency-medicine departments in the plan was not included [in the government’s proposal]. Those who have been on the front-line of the fight against COVID for almost two years have been abandoned.”
Officials have expressed fears that the mass resignation of interns could cripple Israel’s hospitals. According to Channel 12, the resignations will only go into effect in two weeks time. The letter, addressed to Health Minister and Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz, said that the signatory interns are not motivated by personal interest and that it should be a national priority that those who arrive at hospitals for treatment by doctors should be received by professional staff “who are not exhausted, tired, unfocused and without empathy due to inhuman conditions.” The medical residents wrote that it has become clear to them that have been abandoned, and accused Horowitz of failing to adhere to his assurances of a reduction in hours for all interns. After a week of demonstrations, the residents will protest tonight (Saturday) at 8pm at the Cinematheque Square in Central Tel Aviv.