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Israeli health system on brink of collapse as doctors leave in droves

Palestine, (The Palestine Information Centre)A surge in requests from Israeli doctors to leave the occupied territories at any cost has been reported since the Knesset (the parliament) passed a bill late last month that would overhaul the judiciary and limit its powers.

Naftali Kaminski, the Boehringer-Ingelheim Endowed Professor of Internal Medicine and Chief of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine at Yale School of Medicine, said he has been receiving many messages from both young and senior Israeli physicians that say they will even work abroad for free since last week when the bill was approved.

“For them to build relationships and receive recommendations, it’s common for foreign physicians in the United States to work for one or two years with no payment before they’re accepted to residency. It’s a path which Israelis usually don’t go for,” he said.

Israeli physicians and researchers working abroad also said they have been receiving requests from their colleagues in Israel who wish to leave the occupied territories, even willing to accept a worsening of employment conditions or a devaluation of their status and professional responsibilities.

“I’ve just spoken to another physician, the third to call me in two days, who wanted to know if there’s any concrete offer or a position,” said Erez Nosek, a senior physician in the Department of Neurosurgery at the NYU Medical Center and the director of the cerebral bypass surgery unit.

“I’ve never received this type of inquiry, of someone looking for a position and an immediate transfer,” Nosek said, adding that his colleagues in the US have also received such requests.

Israeli “physicians who’re currently in residency in the United States are looking for ways to stay in the country instead of returning to Israel,” he said.

‘Nearly 500 doctors expected to leave Israel’

The Israel Medical Association said nearly 500 doctors are expected to leave Israel due to the judicial plan, warning that the exodus can lead to a severe medical crisis.

The association’s heads also told health ministry CEO Moshe Bar Siman Tov and the heads of Israel’s health system during an emergency meeting on Wednesday that even if “only” 300 doctors were to leave, the crisis would be unbearable.

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