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Health Ministry director-general Nachman Ash strongly criticized ongoing violence against healthcare providers on Wednesday, a day after a doctor was severely beaten by a patient at a community clinic.

“It’s a general atmosphere that allows the blood[shed] healthcare providers and for no reason,” Ash told the Ynet news site. “A doctor was busy and couldn’t see a patient, so he broke into a room with an iron bar and repeatedly hit her on the head and other parts of her body.

“I spoke to the doctor and understand that it was very lucky that it ended the way it did. [and wasn’t worse],” he said.

“It’s just shocking, and this violent speech and behavior needs to stop.”

Ash also linked the repeated incidents of violence against healthcare providers to the anti-vaccine rhetoric that has spread during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The link exists because any discourse that encourages violence ultimately also leads to violence. Those are two things that we didn’t want to tie together until now,” Ash said. “Violence against [officials] is one issue and this violence against health care providers is a second issue. But everything is linked. »

A number of senior officials and doctors have faced verbal abuse and threats from anti-vaccine activists. Most notably, Dr Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of public services at the Department of Health and one of the government’s top COVID advisers, has been repeatedly threatened by anti-vaccine activists and conspiracy theorists who consider her as the public face of health system inoculation. effort.

Health Minister Director General Nachman Ash attends a press conference on the coronavirus, in Jerusalem on August 29, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Ash noted that while there have been recently announced plans to station police in hospitals, community clinics were more of an issue.

“It’s really a much bigger challenge. I want to say that having policemen in hospitals won’t solve everything either. It’s impossible to put a policeman in every clinic, that’s for sure. I believe that the punishment is the key to creating deterrence,” Ash said.

Medical workers demonstrate at the Mount Scopus campus of Hadassah Medical Center following recent violent attacks on medical staff, May 19, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Ash’s comments came as the suspect in Tuesday’s attack on a doctor in the central town of Be’er Yaakov appeared in court on Wednesday for a remand hearing. The police were seeking to charge him with attempted murder.

According to the Kan public broadcaster, the court was told that the suspect allegedly attacked the doctor with a meat tenderizer.

Police say the suspect, a townsman in his 30s, went to the clinic for medical treatment. While at the clinic, he started behaving wildly. He refused to leave when the doctor asked him to, and instead grabbed a gun and punched her in the head.

The doctor was slightly injured and taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. The man was apprehended shortly afterwards by the police.

Tuesday’s attack was the latest in a string of violence at hospitals and clinics in recent months.

Damage to the intensive care unit of Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem caused by family members of a patient who died there, May 16, 2022. (Hadassah Spokesperson)

Following the latest attack, the doctors’ union announced that staff at public hospitals and clinics would go on a two-day strike to protest violence against doctors, operating on a weekend schedule with reduced services for all Thursday and Friday.

“We have made it clear over the past year that any instance of violence will be zero-tolerance on our part,” Israel Medical Association chairman Professor Zion Hagay said Tuesday.

“The last strike led to an important government decision to place police officers in emergencies and to allocate the necessary manpower, but we only have to look at how things are implemented on the ground. Until we see real action immediately, we will intensify our actions until someone here wakes up and realizes that violence in the healthcare system is a real epidemic,” he said. he declares.

The nurses union said on Wednesday it would join the strike.

The upcoming strike is the second initiated by the doctors’ union in recent weeks. Industrial action was sparked last month after family members of a patient who died at a Jerusalem hospital attacked medical staff and caused extensive damage to an intensive care unit after learning of his death.

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