Turkish health minister steps back from controversial decision

Turkish health minister steps back from controversial decision

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish health minister steps back from controversial decision

The Full Workday Law was criticized for forcing doctors to choose between the public and the private sector, causing many to resign from state universities. AA photo

Turkey’s newly appointed health minister implied a step back would be taken from a recent ban on medical professors working at private clinics during business hours. The law has caused widespread flight from universities, weakening the staff at university hospitals.

Mehmet Müezzinoğlu signaled a change to a law commonly referred to as the “Full Workday Law,” saying that they would hold a meeting next week with university representatives on the issue. The Health Ministry’s press office declined to make further comment on the details of the issue, saying that it was still a premature initiative and would be shaped in the coming weeks. Also, the ministry will hold a press meeting on the issue in the coming weeks, said the office.

Law goes to court

The Constitutional Court partially annulled the law in July 2012. The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) had taken the law to court, asking for the annulment of certain provisions and the abolition of the act in force.

The court annulled provisions that brought various prohibitions for doctors working at institutions such as public and university hospitals, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and the Gülhane Military Academy of Medicine (GATA).

Accordingly, doctors working at public hospitals as well as doctors working for the TSK were allowed to open private clinics and work at private foundation universities. Medical professors employed by universities would also be able to practice in the private sector under a change.

The “Full Workday Law” was widely criticized for forcing doctors to choose between the public and private sector. It caused many professors to resign from state universities and prefer working only at private ones, due to the major gap between wages in the private and public sectors.

In 2011 Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was operated on by a doctor affected by the law.

Professor Dursun Buğra had to retire from a state university, Istanbul Medicine Faculty, due to the Full Workday Law and chose to work in a private hospital, daily Hürriyet reported Nov. 30, 2011. Erdoğan’s operation was done at Marmara Medicine Faculty’s Pendik Research and Education Hospital by Buğra, who was working at the Private American Hospital after retiring from the state university’s hospital.

The Health Ministry’s attempt has come soon after the replacement of the minister as part of a Cabinet reshuffle in late January. As part of the reshuffle, Müezzinoğlu replaced Health Minister Recep Akdağ, while Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin was replaced by Muammer Güler, Education Minister Ömer Dinçer saw Habi Avcı take his spot and Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay was replaced by Ömer Çelik. HDN