60,000 incidents of violence against health personnel in last five years in Turkey: Union head
A total of 60,000 incidents of violence against healthcare workers were reported in Turkey in the last five years, said Metin Memiş, the president of the Trade Union of Health and Social Workers (Sağlık-Sen).
Of this number, 48,000 consisted of incidents of “verbal assault,” whereas 12,000 consisted of “physical violence,” said Memiş, also the vice president of the Confederation of Public Servants Trade Union of Turkey, Memur-Sen.
“This is a very serious number,” Memiş warned while addressing a general meeting of the Sağlık-Sen office in the northwestern province of Edirne on Nov. 4.
“Authorities take the testimony of the relevant person who has inflicted violence and then release them. We had previously said this does not a have deterrence effect and now there is a draft law regarding this in parliament,” Memiş said, referring to a recently prepared draft law seeking a judicial process to be launched into perpetrators of violence against health personnel.
“If this law passes parliament, those inflicting violence on health personnel will be jailed pending trial. We believe that being jailed pending trial as well as an increase in jail terms will decrease violence in the health sector,” he said.
Memiş has also said Sağlık-Sen has suggested to authorities that whoever inflicted violence against health personnel would have to pay their own health expenses for a duration of at least six months, instead of the government covering such expenses through the Social Security Institution system (SGK)—as is the case now.
“Apart from this, there is also another a model being applied in England. A person inflicting violence on health personnel is registered [by officials]. And if this person goes to the hospital again, a notification [that this person has inflicted violence] appears [on the hospital screen] and they are examined while being escorted by police. I believe that if such regulations are undertaken, important steps [to curb violence] will be undertaken,” he said.
Violence against healthcare personnel is an important problem in Turkey, with one study finding that 78 percent of emergency doctors were subjected to violence last year.
Unrealistic expectations of patients and their families from physicians and blaming physicians for their problems are one of the reasons of the high number of violence incidents against health care personnel.