As more and more doctors leave Turkey and move abroad due to concerns about their safety as well as poor working conditions, a cardiologist has been killed by a patient at a state hospital in the central province of Konya, according to a statement from the city’s governor.
Konya Governor Vahdettin Özkan said in a statement to the state-run Anadolu news agency after a visit to the Konya City Hospital on Wednesday afternoon where the tragedy took place that both the doctor, identified as Ekrem Karakaya, and the assailant died.
The assailant reportedly took his own life with the same gun after firing shots at the doctor following a quarrel.
The cause of the attack on the doctor was not immediately clear, but it is common in Turkey for patients or their relatives to attack doctors, demanding to be treated immediately or holding them responsible for the death of a family member.
The murder of Karakaya prompted doctors at the Konya City Hospital to stop work and stage a demonstration in the hospital’s courtyard protesting the violence against doctors.
The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) from its Twitter account condemned the attack on Karakaya, saying that doctors will never forgive those who fail to take the necessary measures to protect them against acts of violence.
Wednesday’s attack came at a time when hundreds of doctors are leaving Turkey and moving abroad due to the frequent acts of violence and poor working conditions in the country.
The medical community has been calling for more manageable workloads, increased security and an increase in pay due to the heavy workload caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, rising cases of physical violence against healthcare workers and soaring inflation –- registered at a two-decade high, according to official figures -– that reduce doctors’ salaries close to the minimum wage.
Earlier in the day, the TTB announced that 1,171 doctors had applied to the TTB in the first three months of 2022 for a certificate of good standing in advance of moving abroad.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sparked anger and disappointment when he in a speech in early March condemned an increasing number of Turkish doctors who are choosing to move to the private sector or go abroad for better job opportunities, saying they are free to go and that Turkey will find ways to make up for their loss.
After facing an angry reaction from the medical community, thousands of whose members took to the streets on the occasion of Medicine Day, marked every March 14 in Turkey, Erdoğan later praised the efforts of doctors, especially during the pandemic, and said, “Turkey is always in need of its doctors and is indebted to them.”