Turkish private hospitals demand better compensation from health ministry

Turkey’s Health Ministry should cover staff and administrative costs for private hospitals to be used as part of the country’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic, Private Healthcare Centres Association Chairman Reşat Bahat was quoted by Cumhuriyet newspaper as saying.

“They can use our hospitals as much as they want, but they should pay for our costs,” Bahat said. “We do not want anything extra. But we do not have endless resources.”

Turkey last week reclassified qualifying private hospitals as pandemic hospitals, which will treat coronavirus patients at no additional out-of-pocket cost to them.

Severe cases that need intensive care will be treated at no cost, but lighter symptoms will fall under regular hospital procedures, Bahat said. According to the chairman, patients hospitalised in regular rooms will still need to pay for the room.

Private hospitals, which employ some 300,000 people and have 40 percent of Turkey’s ICU beds, are running out of resources and will not be able to keep up, Bahat said.

The disposable gowns and other supplies needed for each class-one patient alone add up to $100 a day, while the state pays private hospitals $30, Bahat said.

“It is not ethical for the chairman to discuss money as the crisis is just starting,” Turkish Medical Association Chairman Sinan Adıyaman said in response. “The state could offer them some equipment support for free, but we believe healthcare should be public.”

Some private hospitals have fired doctors within the first month of the pandemic, or forced them to work for half of their salaries, Adıyaman said. “This is unacceptable. Doctors and other healthcare workers should be supported.”

Under the Turkish healthcare system, public hospitals are mostly free, with patients paying some out-of-pocket costs for medications and doctor’s visits.