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Israel: 2,600 medical interns resign over long working hours

Israeli Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz on July 25, 2019 in Tel Aviv. [ACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images]
Israeli Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz on July 25, 2019 in Tel Aviv. [ACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images]

As many as 2,590 medical interns resigned in Israel yesterday in protest of the 26-hour shifts they are forced to work.

The doctors-in-training signed off on a letter that was delivered to the Tel Aviv District Health office by Dr. Ray Bitton, head of the Mirsham organisation of medical interns.

The resignation came a day after the interns rejected a government proposal to gradually reduce shifts to 18 hours by 2026, but only in ten hospitals in outlying areas.

The Syndicate of Resident Doctors said Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz is afraid of shortening the surgeons' shifts and not of the effects of an intern doctor carrying out operations over a 25 hour period. The interns said they had been "abandoned", adding that their priority was for patients to receive the care they needed and not be greeted by doctors "who are not exhausted, tired, unfocused and without empathy due to inhuman conditions."

Meanwhile, sources in the Israeli Ministry of Health said the ministry is considering the possibility of going to the Labor Court in order to issue precautionary orders against the doctors in the event they implement their resignations.

The resignations come into effect in two weeks.

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