Turkish opposition hits out at plan to introduce foreign medics

Turkish opposition hits out at plan to introduce foreign medics

Hüseyin Hayatsever ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish opposition hits out at plan to introduce foreign medics

Critics of the government’s statutory decree to employ foreign medics in Turkey say the plan is paving the way for ‘cheap labor’ in the health sector. Hürriyet photo

The government’s statutory decree that opened the door to the employment of foreign medics in Turkey has prompted harsh objections from the opposition and medical associations on grounds of diminishing the quality of the health care.

“Medics in the West have a higher level of income. We cannot expect them to give up their high salaries and come to Turkey. Doctors from countries with poorer medical education will come here. This will decrease the quality of health-care services in Turkey,” Aytun Çıray of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), a doctor by profession, told the Hürriyet Daily News.

A statutory decree issued Oct. 2, just before the government’s six-month legislative mandate was to expire, permitted the employment of foreign doctors and nurses in Turkey despite widespread opposition to the idea. Health Minister Recep Akdağ has defended the move arguing that Turkey faces a shortage of doctors and nurses, with the number of patients for both categories well above European standards.

Critics said the decree paved the way for “cheap labor” in the health sector. Turkey’s health expenditure has increased from 16 billion to 50 billion liras under the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Çıray said. “They have a budget deficit, they have to decrease health expenditures. By employing foreign medics, who will work for lower salaries, the government is trying to bring cheaper health services from abroad.”

CHP deputy Aytuğ Atıcı said the decree would convert the Turkish health-care system into a “commercial market” and patients into “clients.”

“This decree will commoditize the health system. The government will have leverage to threaten Turkish doctors saying that, ‘If you resist our policies, then we have foreign doctors to replace you, we don’t need you anymore.’ They [the government] will try to create competition between Turkish and foreign medics,” Atıcı, who is also a physician, told the Hürriyet Daily News.

The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) also slammed the decree. The government “flouted the people’s will” by issuing a statutory decree instead of passing a law in Parliament, TTB chairman Eriş Bilaloğlu told a press conference yesterday. “The government dealt a major blow to Turkey’s health system,” he said.