Health Minister Dan Naveh yesterday ordered 800 nurses who are currently attending courses to halt their studies and return to their wards, in order to alleviate the staff shortages caused by severe overcrowding in the hospitals.
The order was pursuant to a cabinet decision last week instituting a series of measures aimed at providing temporary relief for the crisis. These measures, which will remain in force through the end of February, include putting additional doctors and nurses on duty in crowded wards and moving some patients into geriatric hospitals.
Also yesterday, MK Shaul Yahalom, who chairs the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee, urged all Israelis doctors to join the protest against overcrowded hospitals that was launched on Tuesday by the heads of the internal medicine wards.
"Routine methods of struggle have failed," Yahalom declared.
On Tuesday, 90 directors of internal medicine wards from 24 public hospitals, along with Israel Medical Association chair Dr. Yoram Blachar, wrote to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon complaining of the shortage of beds that has forced them to hospitalize patients in the corridors. The letter demanded that Sharon establish a state commission of inquiry to investigate "how the hospital system in Israel deteriorated into that of a Third World country."
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