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251 doctors intended to leave Turkey in 1st month of 2023, TTB data shows

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

Statistics from the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) show that 251 physicians applied for a certificate of good standing in advance of moving abroad in January, local media reported on Wednesday.

Doctors in Turkey increasingly continue to leave the country as the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government fails to meet their demands for manageable workloads and increased security and pay.

While only 59 doctors applied to the TTB for the certificate in 2012, the number increased to 90 in 2013, 118 in 2014, 150 in 2015, 245 in 2016, 482 in 2017, 802 in 2018, 1,057 in 2019, 931 in 2020 and 1,405 in 2021.

Among the 2,685 physicians who applied for the certificate last year were 1,341 general practitioners and 1,344 specialists, according to Turkish media reports.

“The emigration trend has not slowed down in 2023, which physicians entered under difficult working conditions and attacks on their professional organization, the TTB. We will continue our struggle for a healthy future with hope and determination,” the TTB said, sharing the relevant data in a tweet.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a speech in early March condemned an increasing number of Turkish doctors who are choosing to move to the private sector or go abroad for better job opportunities, saying they are free to go and that Turkey will find ways to make up for their loss.

After facing an angry reaction from the medical community, thousands of whose members took to the streets on the occasion of Medicine Day, marked every March 14 in Turkey, Erdoğan later praised the efforts of doctors, especially during the pandemic, and said, “Turkey is always in need of its doctors and is indebted to them.”

The president’s remarks came amid protests calling for more manageable workloads, increased security and an increase in pay due to the heavy workload caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, rising cases of physical violence against healthcare employees and soaring inflation that reduce doctors’ salaries to close to the minimum wage.

The doctors’ departures are a sad indictment of Erdoğan, who has burnished his own reputation by expanding universal health care over his 20 years in power. But the strains of the overhauls wrought by Erdoğan, in addition to those brought by the pandemic and increasing inflation, have undermined the very professionals on whom the health system depends.

Up to 3,000 doctors preparing to leave Turkey by end of 2022, TTB estimates show

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