Over 2,400 Turkish doctors quit since beginning of pandemic

More than 2,400 doctors have called it quits since March of last year, when Turkey registered its first coronavirus case, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Wednesday.

Another 522 doctors working in public hospitals have transferred to private health institutions over the past year, T24 news site cited Koca as saying, responding to parliamentary question filed by an opposition lawmaker.

A total of 858 specialist physicians, 1,410  general practitioners and 144 resident doctors threw in the towel since the beginning of the pandemic, the health minister said.

Turkey’s healthcare workers have borne the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic, often having to work well beyond their shift limits and contracting COVID-19 at alarming rates.

In September, the country’s medical workers launched a series of protest events, accusing Ankara of mismanaging the pandemic and putting medical workers at risk.

Their demands included cutting working hours, a sufficient number of protective masks, uniforms and other material, and a working environment where medical workers can rest during and after taking care of infected patients.

According to the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), the country's top medical group, 357 healthcare workers have lost their lives after contracting the coronavirus to date in the country as of the end of January.

Koca on Wednesday left unanswered a question on the number of doctors who received health checks since March, saying the Health Ministry did not have access to such data.