With looming strike action in the medical sector faced by UK hospitals, 8 hour plus queues in our A&Es and an underfunded NHS, we wanted to look at why Laniado Hospital’s no-strike policy works for them by looking at some critical differences.
After surviving the ordeals of the concentration camps and losing his entire family, the Klausenberger Rebbe zt’l vowed to dedicate his life to establishing a hospital in Israel where medicine and healing is practiced with compassion and kindness, where healing is administered by highly trained professionals who exemplify the Jewish tradition of caring for the needs of the disadvantaged and the infirm.
In 1975, Rabbi Halberstam established Laniado Hospital in Netanya, built on founding principles and ethics to guide the operation of the hospital and focusing on the needs of the patient and the needs of the healers. He believed that when you keep your staff safe - by providing them with what they need to save lives, you help them to provide better care for their patients.
Laniado Hospital is run according to Jewish Law and is known as the only hospital in Israel which has never closed due to a strike.
An ethical conflict can arise as doctors have the Hippocratic tradition of placing patient’s best interests at heart as the primary moral consideration in medical practice. However, the rise of consumerism in healthcare, the loss of power by doctors, many of whom now work as employees, subject to regulations imposed by different stakeholders, including governments, health-maintenance organisations, and healthcare insurers, has impacted on modern medical practice and doctors are at the mercy of their employer. With less staff and limited resources, medical staff in the UK are resorting to strikes to extract concessions from employers.
The stress placed upon medical care givers is immense. They are in the business of caring and saving lives. This is a big responsibility.
And you shall love your fellow man as yourself-Torah
Rabbi Halberstam taught that those involved in healing may not strike no matter how legitimate their grievances. But he also set up important founding principles in order to protect all. Laniado Hospital is a holy institution for the benefit of those in need of health services and that the hospital shall treat all persons regardless of religion or creed. Every effort is made to relieve the suffering of all patients to improve their mental outlook and elevate their spirits, which is an important therapeutic aide. He insisted that concern with a patient’s pain was crucial to that task. Asked which of two types of syringe needles the hospital should purchase - one that was slightly less painful or one that was half the price - he immediately ordered the more expensive needles. Every effort shall be made to employ physicians and para-medical staff persons who have excelled in their professional medical fields who shall possess personality traits and characteristics permeated with love for their fellow man as written in the Torah: “And you shall love your fellow man as yourself”. At Laniado a patient is a person.
“It is of utmost importance to observe the commandments dealing with the relationships between “man and his fellow man”. That is why the hospital must be especially careful not to cause unnecessary burdens on its employees or to any individual involved with the hospital.
Salaries and wages must be paid on the appointed payroll date.
The hospital atmosphere shall be permeated with the spirit of peacefulness, tranquillity, love and devotion.”
All affairs of the hospital shall be conducted in accordance with the observance of all commandments of the Torah as codified in the Shulchan Aruch and rabbinical authority to whom all halachic questions shall be referred and his decision shall be binding on the entire staff of the hospital.
In summary, a no-strike policy was put in place to preserve life but it is essential to take care of the care-givers and the entire hospital environment all the way down to the size of a syringe needle.
A patient is a person and their dignity and the dignity of the staff is considered. This is why a no-strike policy works for Laniado hospital.
The Rebbe once explained: "When you come to a place of darkness, you do not chase out the darkness with a broom. You light a candle."