Free medical zones to hire, treat foreigners

Free medical zones to hire, treat foreigners

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Free medical zones to hire, treat foreigners

A number of foreign health personnel are to be employed in ‘free zones.’ REUTERS photo

Non-Turkish foreign health personnel could be assigned to foreign patients at private hospitals that are to be established in “free health zones,” Health Minister Recep Akdağ has announced.

The ministry is working on a new model that would facilitate the employment of foreign doctors and nurses who had a work permit in the interests of fostering more health tourism, daily Akşam reported.

According to Akdağ, the ministry is trying to establish a new system called “free health zones” with a new decree law and are conducting preparation work with the related ministries under the auspices of Ali Babacan, the deputy prime minister responsible for the economy.

Akdağ said Turkey was one of the few countries to provide high-quality health services for low prices, but added that the number of doctors, nurses and other health officials was insufficient.

“As the health tourism improves, we will balance [the number of health officials in private and public sectors] in order to prevent inconsistencies,” the minister said.

“We want patients from abroad; on the other hand, we have some measures in place to enlarge the private sector. So we have a plan in order to prevent such an inconsistency. We may [move to] employ a certain number of doctors, nurses and health officials from abroad at the new hospitals established in free zones,” the minister said. “We are currently working on it. We could allow the construction of hospitals that are [not currently] planned for, but only to a certain extent. For example, we may employ a certain number of foreign health officials in proportion to the total number of officials working in Turkey,” Akdağ said.



Recent classified ad numbers show that there is severe lack of qualified personnel in the health sector.

Some 4,500 people will be employed in the sector in the next term, according to data by, an online job search database. Accordingly, classified ads in the first six months of 2012 increased by 117 percent compared to the first six months of last year. Nurses and patient counselors are the two most sought-after professions. Interest in the sector by the unemployed also increased. The number of applications to health sector jobs in the first half of 2012 rose by 133 percent compared to the previous half.

The most-applied-for positions are patient counseling and accounting staff. Istanbul, Ankara and Antalya were the provinces where the most ads were published.

The Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) data also shows that the health sector has one of the lowest rates of unemployment out of all business fields.