Doctors to Strike on Thursday for Protesting Violence against Medics

On Tuesday, the doctor’s union announced that staff at clinics and public hospitals would go on a strike on Thursday in protest of violence against medics. The call for the strike came after the medical staff was attacked by family members of a patient who died on Monday at a Jerusalem hospital. After the family members were informed of the patient’s death, they had caused a significant amount of damage to the intensive care unit. According to the union, the clinics and hospitals would be offering reduced services on Thursday, as they would be operating on a weekend schedule. 

The announcement of the strike came from the Israel Medical Association and they stated that every emergency room should have a police presence. It also added that improved security systems were needed for community clinics and hospitals. The association also called for a change in legislation, so that the attack on medical staff would be treated with the same severity as that of an attack on a police officer. Prof. Zion Hagay, the Israel Medical Association’s chairman stated that the strike on Thursday was just the beginning of the action that the medical establishment would take if steps were not taken for the protection of medical workers. 

At the start of the meeting of the association on Tuesday evening, the chairman said that they have already announced that no more incidents of violence would be tolerated in the health system, which has become a real epidemic. He added that they should not abandon the lives of doctors and this strike was just a warning. Hagay said that they would take additional steps if the Israeli government failed to take the steps necessary for protecting the medical staff. The nurses union has not announced if they will also join the strike. 

The call for the strike came after a patient died at the Hadassah Medical Center on Monday in Jerusalem, which resulted in violence from family members. The police stated that initial investigation showed the patient had died from an overdose and no further details were disclosed. The man’s relatives had arrived at the hospital and were informed of his death. After receiving the news, a number of them broke the windows and doors in the unit, attacked the staff and also damaged the computers, equipment as well as the nurse’s station. There were light injuries to two medical staff members and they had to get medical treatment.

The police stated that a resident from East Jerusalem had been arrested on suspicion of being involved in the incident. There has been an increased number of attacks in recent months against medical facilities and teams all over Israel. A strike was held by nurses at the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa back in November to protest against an incidence of violence in which family of a patient dying from cancer had threatened and beaten staff members. In the same month, a victim of violence had been brought to the hospital for treatment and dozens of people had gathered outside who had to be forcibly removed. 

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