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Israeli medical interns on hunger strike

July 21, 2011 at 1:06 PM   |   Comments

KFAR SAVA, Israel, July 21 (UPI) -- Striking Israeli doctors-in-training staged a hunger strike at a hospital Thursday and checked into emergency rooms at three others, complaining of exhaustion.

Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba, the country's seventh-largest hospital complex, was forced to shut down its emergency department as a result of the hunger strike, Haaretz reported.

The latest protests followed an injunction from Israel's National Labor Court Wednesday ordering the rebel medical residents back to work.

The injunction came after hundreds of residents and interns walked out of at least eight hospitals across the country to protest a tentative agreement between the Israel Medical Association and the Israeli Treasury to end the 16-week labor dispute.

The agreement calls for pay increases and workweek reductions to five days or 40 hours a week.

The residents and interns -- who have medical degrees but do not have full licenses to practice medicine unsupervised -- are the lowest on the medical totem pole, earning the least and working the longest hours, sometimes 80 or more a week.

But the draft agreement also calls for the creation of only 650 medical positions over three years, which the residents said was far fewer than the minimum 1,000 needed to meet Israel's medical needs, Haaretz said.

The young doctors also allege senior physicians consider them cheap labor, caring little about their pay and hours of work.

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