Turkish doctors on month-long protest against "Nazi" health bill

Doctors from the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) trade union have continued their demonstrations against a new health bill described by one TTB leader as reminiscent of Nazi Germany.

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) submitted a bill to parliament on October 30, presenting it as a measure to prevent violence against doctors, several instances of which have shocked the nation this year.

However, the measures taken in the bill fall far short of those proposed by the TTB earlier, said Mehmet Necip Gürlevik, the union’s chairman for the south eastern city of Adıyaman, on Saturday.

Doctors from the TTB protested outside parliament in the capital city of Ankara on Monday before staging a sit-in protest in nearby Kuğulu Park from midday to 7 p.m.

The protests were part of a planned month of protests against a bill that the TTB fear could deprive  many doctors of their livelihoods.

The bill contains several measures that would severely impacy doctors, starting with lifting the requirement that hospitals apply to the TTB. This would likely result in a decline in membership of the union, and potentially a decline in doctors’ salaries across the board, news site Artı Gerçek reported last week. Other effects of the bill, however, could be even more dire.

“The AKP’s proposal regarding healthcare workers is one that will strip them of their right and freedom to work. Such a thing has only been seen in the Nazi period,” said TTB second chairperson Ali Çerkezoğlu.

Doctors who are sacked by presidential decree would also be stripped of their diplomas and barred from hospitals linked to state social security. Almost all hospitals have these links.

In addition, doctors under investigation on charges that could deem them security threats would be barred from working for two years.

In the wake of a security crackdown after a failed military coup in 2016, an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 doctors could be affected by these changes.