Serkan Alan/ DUVAR 

Violence against healthcare workers in Turkey has increased during the tenure of the ruling Justice and Development Party, with over 91,000 instances of violence being reported between 2012 and 2019, according to a report prepared by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Chairman Fethi Açıkel.

According to the report, on a daily basis in Turkey 40 instances of physical, physical or verbal assaults are reported against healthcare workers by patients and their loved ones, and three out of four people working in the field have reported at least one violent incident during their careers. 

“Violence against healthcare workers in our country in the past sixteen years has risen high above the global average. While violence in healthcare was not even a national issue in 2002, the problem that it has become today has gotten to the point where it is even a source of concern for international health and labor organizations,” the report said. 

The ALO 113 hotline, which was established by the Ministry of Health so that people working in the healthcare industry could call to report incidents of violence, recorded 91,355 of such instances between May 2012 and August of 2019, according to the report, which indicated that the number of those calling the hotline in 2017 increased by 26. Nearly 30 percent of incidents reported involved direct acts of violence being committed against the workers. 

The report noted that nine doctors have been killed on duty between 2005-2019, while 431 healthcare workers committed suicide between the years of 2015-2017. 

While the total number of doctor visits amounted to 209 million in 2002, that figure more than tripled in 2017, reaching 719 million. In 2002, on average people in Turkey applied to see a doctor three times annually, while this figure also tripled to nine by 2017. The OECD average for annual visits is under seven. 

According to the World Health Organization, for a healthy treatment patients need to be allotted at least 20 minutes, but in Turkey in both private and public hospitals that average can be as low as five minutes.

The number of doctors applying to the Turkish Medical Association for registration to work abroad was 59 in 2012, while that figure increased fifteen times in 2019, reaching 906.