Nurses strike ends quickly, happily as government promises influx of workers

Health system agrees to hire 2,000 more nurses and hundreds of doctors to help ease burden as coronavirus patients continue to fill hospitals.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The nationwide strike by nurses ended Monday after the Finance Ministry and Health Ministries agreed to add several thousand medical workers to deal with the coronavirus crisis.

“Great news for the health system – I am happy to announce that I have agreed with the Minister of Finance on the addition of a staff of 2,000 nurses, 400 doctors and 700 administrative workers, who will be assigned to the corona departments,” Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said.

“In addition, a budget increase was agreed upon for the purchase of vaccines and investment in infrastructure in order to assess the challenges of corona.”

Israel’s 45,000 nurses have been on the front lines of the health crisis with the public generally unaware that thousands of medical workers, especially nurses, have been repeatedly forced into quarantine for up to two weeks at a time after being exposed to an infected patient.

Some have paid the ultimate price for the danger of the job and themselves have succumbed to the virus.

The quarantines have left many hospital wards understaffed and the national nurses union decided to strike last week after talks with the Finance Ministry over manpower shortages during the coronavirus pandemic had reached a dead end.

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Fed up with being overworked and stressed from the dangers of fighting the virus, the union said the working conditions made it impossible to continue without the government helping out.

During the short strike nurses continued to work in coronavirus and oncology wards, but non-urgent surgeries were postponed and outpatient clinics operated on an emergency basis only.

The strike did not affect coronavirus testing labs, which continued to work around the clock with the number of Israelis actively infected expected to reach a record 30,000 by Tuesday evening.