Family physicians strike to protest weekend shifts

Family physicians strike to protest weekend shifts

İdris Emen – ISTANBUL
Family physicians strike to protest weekend shifts

File photo from May 14, 2015. Cihan Photo

Family physicians are going on a three-day strike as of May 20 to protest working on weekends, an obligation which was brought forth by the health ministry. 

Family physicians will be on strike between May 20 and 22, but as May 19 is an official Turkish holiday and the weekend falls after May 22, family physicians will not offer services for a total of six days. 

With a circular issued April 9, 2014, the health ministry obligated family physicians to work eight hours on Saturdays, which took effect as of Jan. 3, 2015. But doctors have rejected working on weekends. As such, provincial public health directorates started launching investigations into physicians who did not show up for their Saturday shifts, within the scope of the “regulation on the payments and contract of family physicians.” 

But the ministry, who found the five penalty points given to doctors who do not show up to be too little, increased the penalty points to 20 on April 16. 

With this change, some doctors face losing their contracts due to accumulated high scores of penalty points, if their defenses are not accepted. 

Family physicians are thus going on a strike for three days to protest the obligation. 

Turkish Medical Association’s Family Physicians’ Branch Head Fethi Bozçalı criticized the implementation, stating that with weekend shifts, family physicians were forced to work overtime, what they were already doing currently. 

“Eight investigations have been launched against me as I have not gone to the weekend shifts as a family physician. I testified in each of the investigations. If my defenses are not accepted, I may lose my contract,” said Bozçalı, adding that there were thousands of doctors facing the same fate as him.