A total of 60,000 incidents of violence against healthcare workers have been reported in Turkey in the last five years, said Metin Memiş, president of the Union of Healthcare and Social Workers (Sağlık-Sen), according to a report by the Hürriyet Daily News on Monday.
Of this number, 48,000 consisted of incidents of “verbal assault,” whereas 12,000 involved “physical violence,” said Memiş. “This is a very serious number,” Memiş warned while addressing a general meeting of Sağlık-Sen in the northwestern province of Edirne on Sunday.
“Authorities take the testimony from the person who has inflicted violence and then release them. We had previously said this does not a have deterrent effect, and now there is a bill regarding this in parliament,” Memiş said, referring to recently drafted legislation seeking a the launch of a judicial process into perpetrators of violence against healthcare personnel.
“If this law passes in parliament, those inflicting violence on healthcare personnel will be jailed pending trial. We believe that being jailed pending trial as well as an increase in jail terms will decrease violence in the health sector,” he said.
Memiş also said Sağlık-Sen had suggested to authorities that whoever inflicted violence against healthcare personnel would have to pay their own medical expenses for at least six months instead of the government covering such expenditures through the Social Security Institution (SGK) as is currently the case.
“Apart from this, there is also another model being applied in England. A person inflicting violence on healthcare personnel is registered by officials. And if this person goes to the hospital again, a notification that this person has inflicted violence appears on the hospital screen and they are examined while accompanied by police. I believe that if such regulations are implemented, important steps to curb violence will result,” he said.
Violence against healthcare personnel is an important problem in Turkey, with one study finding that 78 percent of emergency doctors were subjected to violence last year. Unrealistic expectations of patients and their families from physicians and blaming physicians for their problems are some of the reasons for the high number of violent incidents against health care personnel.