Strike talk is nothing new to most nurses as the fight for good pay and adequate manpower continues in many areas of the country. It seems the rest of the world, in fact, isn’t immune to these problems either. Tel Aviv is now approaching two weeks into a major nursing strike. This comes after another major strike in Israel in February.
So far, about 3,500 operations have been cancelled as many local hospitals work with skeleton staffs. Some hospitals are currently only operating during shorter, set hours. The striking union nurses — all employed by Clalit Health Services — are demanding that their salaries be taken off of public sector wage agreements and that nursing be categorized as a national priority profession. They are also fighting what YNet.com reports as a “severe manpower deficit” experienced in general by the nursing trade in Israel.
Some nurses have also expressed that they will no longer accommodate “medical tourism that comes at the expense of hospital beds available to the citizens of Israel.” This, according to Shaul Zakay, the head of the nurses association at the Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv. “Our profession is facing a serious crisis,” he told YNet News. “There is an immense nurse shortage, which puts the existing nursing workforce under terrible pressure and undermines the quality of care.”
He also told the news outlet that “the veteran nurses are crushed by the workload. The latest deal that was signed in the beginning of the year went into effect in April and that was supposed to encourage nurses to come work at internal medicine units and emergency rooms, but it failed to solve the problem…I am ashamed to looked at the OECD data that ranks Israel next to last when it comes to the number of nurses per 1,000 people.”
Talks between the union and the Financial Ministry have broken down several times, as the Ministry claims that 116 of the new nursing positions it created in March have still been unfilled. Hiking salaries wouldn’t help with that deficit, but filling the roles would obviously help with the weak staff numbers.
While it may be tough to really speculate on the details of what exactly is happening in nursing in another country, this news has us wondering: What have Scrubs readers experienced with pay negotiations and staff increases where they live?
Is anyone in Newington, CN, where some 600 nursing home workers have been on the picket lines for five months fighting for their benefits? If you’ve worked at hospitals in several cities, is this something you see across the board or more just in larger cities? Have you ever been a part of a strike?