Akdağ: Turkey will begin hiring nurses from foreign countries

October 17, 2011, Monday/ 14:48:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Health Minister Recep Akdağ on Monday said his ministry will allow the hiring of foreign nurses to fill empty places in the health sector, in which the current personnel shortage is diminishing the quality of health care services.

Speaking to the Habertürk daily, Akdağ said conditions in the health sector need to be improved, especially in terms of personnel needs, in order to deliver better health services. He added that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) will create a regulation allowing the hiring of licensed nurses from foreign countries.

“We have 160 doctors for every 100,000 people, while European countries have roughly 350 doctors for the same number of people. We have 200 nurses for every 100,000 people, while this number goes up to 700 nurses for every 100,000 people in Europe,” Akdağ said, addressing the healthcare gap between Turkey and Europe. Contributing to the shortage is the fact that it is currently illegal to hire nurses who are not Turkish citizens. Akdağ said his ministry will lift the ban on hiring nurses who are not citizens of Turkey.

The ‘full day law' and medical academics

Akdağ also weighed in on the issue of the “full day law,” which was adopted at the beginning of October and requires doctors in academic posts to work a full day at state and university hospitals, effectively prohibiting them from working in their private clinics. Akdağ said the ministry has made a deal with the Higher Education Board (YÖK) to address the problems which arose from the implementation of the law.

When the law was put into practice, many doctors left their posts to work in their own clinics full time, causing a doctor shortage crisis in many university hospitals. The government's move became the target of harsh criticism from opposition parties.

Akdağ said an academic who teaches in the medical faculty of a university will be allowed to leave his or her post at the university hospital to work in the private sector if he or she so desires. Doctors who do this must end their official relationship with the university. But even if this happens, the academic will be able to teach medicine after signing a contract with his faculty. The status of such teaching doctors will change: They will no longer be state officials but contracted employees.

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