WMA condemns ‘shameful’ move to ban doctors from working

The World Medical Association has condemned as ‘shameful’ a new move by the Turkish authorities to restrict the freedom of Turkish physicians to practice medicine.

Under a new law approved yesterday by Turkey’s Health Commission, thousands of physicians will be barred from working in either the public sector or in private hospitals operating through contract with the Social Security Agency, effectively putting them out of work.

Dr. Ardis Hoven, Chair of WMA Council, said the WMA strongly supported the claim from the Turkish Medical Association that this was ‘nothing less than a blatant assault on the profession of medicine, not only in Turkey but throughout the world’.

The Bill bars thousands of doctors, who were dismissed from public service during Turkey’s State of Emergency, from practicing medicine, some from all practice for a period of 600 days, others from most private hospitals. In addition, medical reports prepared by these physicians will have no validity before judicial and administrative bodies.

The Bill will now be discussed by the Parliament’s Grand Assembly for final approval.

Dr. Hoven said: ‘This Bill is shameful. It is a blatant violation of the right to work for thousands of physicians. It will force them out of work, depriving the Turkish people – the ill, the poor, the handicapped and the elderly being the most exposed – of the health care they need. Why would any Government want to throw thousands of its doctors out of work?’

In a letter to the President of the Grand Assembly, Dr. Hoven writes: ‘We deplore any practices threatening the medical profession and the provision of health-care services. The medical profession is guided by clear and recognised ethical principles, including the principle of medical neutrality, and to practice “with conscience and dignity and in accordance with good medical practice” (WMA Declaration of Geneva), so that they can fulfil their duties to provide care for those in need. By attempting to restrain the medical profession, the bill is moving in the opposite direction alarmingly.

‘We consider the proposal dangerous and irresponsible. We urge you to take all the necessary steps so that it is withdrawn immediately’.