'Turkey's healthcare workers overwhelmed, can't juggle long work hours, childcare'

Turkey's healthcare workers are struggling with the exhaustion of long work hours and childcare difficulties, as the state fails to provide support. Many healthcare workers complain that babysitters are afraid to look after their kids because they work with COVID-19 patients.

Serkan Alan / DUVAR

Turkey's healthcare workers are being crushed under the weight of extended work hours and increased workloads, as the months of long workdays have accumulated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Female healthcare workers are under increased pressure as society often views housework and childcare as women's responsibility, Ankara Medical Chamber board member Laleş Tunç said. 

"If you mandate that healthcare workers work more, you have to provide childcare. Healthcare workers are taking their kids to work with them, during a time when people are afraid to go to the hospital even if they're sick," Tunç said. 

Female healthcare workers are also subject to increased violence through their work with filiation teams, which make home visits and phone calls to patients, Tunç added. 

"Women aren't seen as having authority in many areas of life. So, when a woman is trying to enforce the ministry's restrictions, they're inevitably met with violence. People refusing to let them into their homes, verbal assault, and physical assault have all been reported."

A shocking 60.5 percent of nurses who responded to a survey by the Turkish Nurses Association (THD) reported that they were struggling with childcare and home maintenance, Secretary General Azize Atlı Özbaş said. 

"Babysitters are either scared to take care of our kids because we're healthcare workers, or they try and charge prices that we can't afford."

Özbaş also noted that families in which both parents are healthcare workers struggle even more, because of the same long work hours and babysitters' aversion to caring for their kids. 

Female workers on filiation teams also face a number of safety risks, as long hours force them to commute home alone after dark, Ankara Dentists' Chamber Secretary General Gamze Burcu Gül said.