Israeli medical residents say they’ll ignore back-to-work order


JERUSALEM (JTA) – Hundreds of Israeli medical residents who resigned said they will not obey an order by the National Labor Court sending them back to work.

The court issued its decision Wednesday morning, declaring that the resignations were a collective action and therefore invalid. The resignations came in the form of personal letters.

Two days earlier, the state prosecutor had asked the court to issue an injunction against the resignations and order the residents back to work as they continue to negotiate for a solution to a labor dispute. Hundreds of residents had resigned and did not show up for work this week, leaving hospitals understaffed.

Non-urgent surgeries were canceled in hospitals throughout the country and outpatient clinics were closed. Patients reportedly also were turned away from some hospital emergency rooms.

According to Ynet, the residents are considering a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court. Some had said before the ruling that they would not honor any injunctions.

The resignations originally were scheduled to take effect in September, but were delayed by the court. The residents then agreed to stay on until Sunday in order to get past the Yom Kippur holiday.

Approximately 500 residents did not show up for work Tuesday, according to reports. More than 300 had not shown up the previous day.

The residents are dissatisfied with a nine-year agreement signed recently between the government and the Israel Medical Association. They also rejected an offer by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is the acting head of the health ministry, that would have provided an increase in the salaries of young doctors who worked only in the public health system.

Many of the residents already have secured positions in other countries, Ynet reported.

Netanyahu on Monday asked the residents to delay their resignations by another two weeks to allow him to help find a solution.

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