A promise against violence targeting Turkish health professionals
by Daily Sabah
ANKARAMar 15, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Mar 15, 2016 12:00 am
Doctors, nurses and healthcare personnel in Turkey marked Medicine Day on Monday amid promises by the government to curb violence targeting medical staff.
Violence toward doctors and medical staff in Turkey is on the rise. Doctors have been the victims of 37,000 instances of violence over the past three years, according to official figures. No significant drop in numbers was seen over 2014 and 2015 in cases of violence involving doctors and patients or, in most cases, relatives of patients.
Addressing doctors at an event in Ankara's Gülhane Military Medicine Academy, Health Minister Mehmet Müezzinoğlu said although doctors and medical staff were "greatly respected for what they do" they also occasionally faced violence. He said protection of medical staff is a priority of his ministry and new legal regulations expected to be enacted soon were testimony to a "zero tolerance" stance against violence.
There have been more than 10,000 assault lawsuits filed by doctors in recent years and 3,266 of those cases saw perpetrators convicted with courts handing down heftier sentences without trial, resulting in the release of some perpetrators on probation, specifically those involving non-fatal attacks. New regulations will end the practice of release on probation in cases of violence against doctors and nurses.
The government also plans to install X-ray scanners and assign police to local hospitals in response to the increasing violence, according to media reports.
Müezzinoğlu said the government will also raise public awareness against violence targeting medical staff.
Medical sector workers often face violence from the relatives of patients in intensive care units who blame doctors for not saving the lives of their loved ones and on occasions where patients themselves claim they are not "provided well care for."
On top of isolated attacks, the terror-stricken southeastern region of Turkey remains a dangerous place for healthcare staff. The PKK terrorist organization reportedly threatens doctors treating police officers and soldiers injured in clashes with the terrorists and carry out attacks targeting ambulances. The Health Ministry recently deployed armored ambulances to the region in the face of a heightened campaign of violence underway since last summer.