Turkish Health Ministry stands by as immigration of physicians increases 24-fold in a decade

The Turkish opposition has brought the issue of the brain drain of doctors from Turkey to parliament. According to their statistics, the number of doctors leaving the country has increased 24 times in the last decade.

Duvar English

Opposition İYİ (Good) Party deputy Aytun Çıray brought before parliament last week the issue of brain drain among doctors in Turkey. According to Çıray, the number of physicians leaving Turkey has increased 24 fold in the last decade.

According to Çıray, the Turkish Health Ministry is standing by while physicians flee Turkey.

“What are they waiting for to take action?” Çıray asked. 

Çıray officially asked parliament why the Health Ministry was not taking action with regards to the departure of Turkish physicians. 

“What measures will you take?” he asked Health Minister Fahrettin Koca.

According to Çıray, over 3,000 qualified physicians have left Turkey in the last two years. This comes as a result of foreign exchange rate fluctuation and the continued mobbing of doctors in Turkey. Often, doctors in Turkey are blamed or attacked for negative developments in their patients’ health.

Official figures state that over 3,000 doctors have left for posts abroad in the last two years. However, the actual number may be much higher. In 2012, only 59 doctors applied to move abroad. In the first eleven months of 2020, 1,200 doctors applied to leave Turkey. By December, 1,400 doctors had applied. 

"What is the Health Ministry waiting for to identify the economic and social reasons that have caused such an increase in physician departures and to immediately take necessary actions?” Çıray said.

Çıray noted that overtime, long shift hours, low wages, lack of merit, cases of violence in healthcare, and mobbing and harsh working conditions have led to this departure of physicians. Most of the physicians leaving the country for Europe and abroad are between the ages of 26 and 35.

To be approved to work abroad, Turkish physicians must first apply to the Turkish Medical Association and get a "certificate of good standing". According to official statistics, the number of doctors who applied to get this certificate has increased 24 fold in the last decade. 

Developed countries, Çıray said, have developed fair and equitable working conditions that are desirable for Turkish workers. 

“With the pandemic, the conditions…especially on our doctors, not only shook this position [of strength] but also emphasized the structural weaknesses of our health system, causing it to turn into a ball of problems. The fact that our doctors have recently turned to brain drain is a clear indication of this situation,” he said.

Çıray said that to address the healthcare issues in the country, the Health Ministry needs to undergo significant structural change.

He asked the ministry how many medical doctors and health workers have migrated abroad in the last five years, and how many doctors have applied to go abroad permanently.