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Hospital Conditions Worsen As Labor Actions Continue

The situation at government hospitals veered toward chaos this week as concurrent strikes by some 2,700 doctors and 10,000 non-medical personnel continued with no end in sight.

Wards are filthy. Patients are receiving minimal care and are dependent on outside sources for meals and bed linens.

Admissions at the 25 general, geriatric and psychiatric hospitals have been restricted to emergency cases. Occupancy has fallen by 10 to 20 percent, as many families have taken sick relatives home.

Clerical, maintenance, kitchen and laundry staffs walked off their jobs Sunday. Doctors began a rotating strike Monday, placing selected hospitals on a Sabbath schedule each day, a tactic they have used in the past.

The situation is compounded by the ongoing strike of anesthesiologists, which has forced cancellation of all but emergency surgery and other medical procedures.

The issue in each job category is wages. Both medical and non-medical employees demand salaries and fringe benefits equal to those won by their counterparts employed by Kupat Holim, the Histadrut health-care agency.

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