Government Hospitals Go on Strike to Protest Planned Sale of Center

Medical and administrative staffs of government hospitals throughout the country observed a partial strike Sunday, forcing the affected medical centers to go on an emergencies-only Sabbath schedule.

The staff members are protesting a decision by the Health and Finance ministries to sell one of the state-owned hospitals in the central part of the country, without consulting doctors and administrative staff.

The proposed sale was announced in press advertisements last week, under the imprint of the Health and Finance ministries, which referred merely to “a hospital” without spelling out which one was targeted for sale to private enterprise.

But it is widely believed that the choice is Wolfson Hospital in Holon. The Holon Municipal Council already has issued an official protest that it, too, had not been consulted.

The doctors say they are not opposed in principle to the privatization of one or more government hospitals. But they demand that they be in on any plans for such sales.

Newly appointed Health Minister Ehud Olmert said Saturday night that he had been unaware of the intended sale until the strike plan was announced. He said he had learned the decision to offer a hospital for sale had been made in December by his predecessor, Ya’acov Tsur.

Olmert said he planned to “consult with all employees before the sale of any hospitals.”

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