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Turkey’s doctors seeking to move abroad amid chronic problems of healthcare sector

Turkey doctors

Health workers and doctors wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) hold placards reading "You cannot manage, we are dying - We are running out" during a demonstration against governments health policy on September 15, 2020 in front of Istanbul University medical faculty. Ozan KOSE / AFP

With the Turkish medical community suffering from low wages, an excessive workload and violence from patients, all of which have reached new heights during the coronavirus pandemic, an opposition lawmaker has revealed that more than 1,000 doctors sought to move abroad in the first 11 months of 2021, Turkish media outlets reported.

According to main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Dr. Ali Şeker, 1,133 doctors graduated from the country’s prestigious medical faculties — Cerrahpaşa, Hacettepe and Çapa — in 2020, and 1,270 doctors applied to the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) between January and November 2021 for a certificate of good standing in advance of moving abroad.

Şeker said only 59 doctors applied to move overseas in 2012 but that this number has increased over the years as doctors want to be paid fairly for doing their jobs, without being exposed to violence.

Attacks and threats against doctors and other medical personnel by patients or their relatives are frequent in Turkey. Doctors face violence, in some instances even death, for allegedly not giving sufficient or belated treatment to a person in Turkey’s overcrowded hospitals.

“Unfortunately, we are losing our qualified doctors. We need to make improvements that will convince them to stay in Turkey. We need to take the necessary steps in favor of our doctors and the other medical professionals,” Şeker said in a speech in parliament.

The opposition lawmaker also noted that increasing the budget of the Health Ministry is of the utmost importance to deal with the problems of the healthcare sector and doctors whose salaries have shrunk due to the rapid depreciation of the Turkish lira.

The lira has lost 45 percent of its value against the dollar this year alone amid a currency crisis, which has been eating into the incomes of Turks, shrinking their purchasing power.

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