Hospitals Facing Crisis

Israel’s state hospitals are faced with paralysis and the danger of having to close down, because of a shortage of funds to pay suppliers. The director of the Sheba Hospital in Tel Hashomer, one of the largest medical centers in the country, was quoted today as having begged the electric corporation not to cut off current to the hospital because of a large debt because “this will be condemning patients to death.”

Other hospitals report they have been informed by the Tnuva Dairy Company that no more milk or dairy products will be supplied because of over $1 million outstanding for past deliveries.

Other hospitals complain that they have run out of injection needles and equipment for blood testing and dialysis machines, and suppliers refuse to send in new stocks until old deliveries are paid for.

The Finance Ministry says the Health Ministry must play its part in overall budget cuts, and the shortage of hospital funds can be made up by prompt payment by the Histadrut Kupat Holim and other sick-funds, for patients’ services for which the funds have been billed.

But the funds counter-claim that they have not received their promised subventions from the Finance Ministry.

The situation is not helped by personal animosity between Labor Party Health Minister Mordechai Gur and Liberal-Likud Finance Minister Yitzhak Modai, who have been feuding in public, trading insults and blaming each other for mismanagement.

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