Deteriorating working conditions push doctors out of Turkey

By Dogan Tilic

Ankara, Oct 17 (EFE).- Thousands of physicians are leaving Turkey as a result of the low wages coupled with the violence they face from angry patients and their relatives, a situation only made worse by the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic crisis.

More than 3,000 doctors have left the country to work abroad over the past two years, with about 8,000 others planning on following suit, according to the Turkish Medical Association (TTB).

“Our colleagues are looking for work outside the country. Most of the doctors with whom we have spoken have the same idea,” Suleyman Kaynak, a board member of the Izmir Chamber of Physicians, told local media Wednesday.

Selcuk Candansayar, a professor at the Faculty of Medicine of Ankara’s Gazi University, tells Efe that most of his students and assistants dream of leaving the country.

“This country spends about $1 million to educate a doctor. The best of our graduates come to see me every week to ask how they can work abroad,” says Candansayar, adding that 80 Turkish doctors leave the country every month.

A recent TTB survey of 6,000 doctors from across the country showed that 86% of them have been victims of physical or verbal assaults, while 76% complained they had not received their overtime payments for the hours worked during the pandemic.

Some 68% said they struggle with the heavy workload, while 45% reported insufficient wages.

“Most of my colleagues attend to more than 100 patients in a day. How is it possible to adequately care for so many patients?” Yilmaz Kurt, an emergency unit doctor at an Ankara private hospital, explains to Efe.

Kurt says the workload increased during the Covid-19 pandemic and that violence is now routine in hospitals, as some people go there armed.

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