Vending machines in Turkish hospitals rob patient relatives, health workers of money

Vending machines in Turkish hospitals have completely collapsed, causing patient relatives and healthcare workers to lose their money when trying to buy products.

Hacı Bişkin / DUVAR

Vending machines inside large public hospitals are broken, depriving patients’ families and healthcare professionals of goods they have paid for. According to people in Turkish hospitals, thousands of people have fallen victim to this faulty system.

The problem is particularly pronounced in two hospitals in Istanbul’s city center: Prof. Cemil Taşçıoğlu Education and Research Center in Istanbul Okmeydanı, and Taksim Education and Research Hospital near Taksim square. 

One patient’s relative who experienced this malfunction at the hospital in Okmeydanı called it “robbery.” He spent 15 days at the hospital and was unable to purchase tea once. He said that when he tried, he put money in the machine but could not receive his beverage. He thought this was a one-time thing, but the problem persisted for the entirety of his time at the hospital. He noticed that the machines were particularly problematic in the evenings. 

“There are thousands of victims like me,” he said, “These machines neither produce the product [we wanted] nor do they return the money we paid.”

This is a problem that has also been experienced by healthcare workers. When they ask management why the machines are broken, or why they are not refunded, they do not receive an answer. 

While the amount of money that has been lost due to this malfunction is unclear, it is evidently not a problem contained to the Okmeydanı Hospital. At the Taksim Education and Research hospital, patients’ families and healthcare workers paid money for drinking water they never received. 

The root of the problem goes back to the Health Ministry. In April 2019, the ministry refused to renew a contract with the company Beltur, affiliated with the Istanbul Municipality (İBB), to operate canteens. Vending machines were placed as a solution to the problem.