Public healthcare

Public hospitals in Turkey

Public healthcare

If you are legally employed in Turkey, or you are the spouse of a Turkish national, you are eligible for treatment in any public hospital. Not that you´ll necessarily want it.

Doctors in public hospitals are as well-trained as any in Turkey (and for the most part, in the world). Unfortunately, public hospitals are plagued by financial shortfalls that leave them with outdated and ill-maintained medical equipment. In addition, many are overcrowded.

On any given visit to a state hospital (devlet hastanesi), you will be confronted with one or all of the following: equipment that is poorly maintained or missing components, critical staff shortages that leave you with under-trained nurses, and curtain-less beds offering limited privacy. Don´t expect to meet anyone who speaks intelligible English, or to find a doctor on duty overnight, either.

State hospitals do not provide patients with meals, so you will rely on friends and family for food during any extended stay.

As a general rule, bring anything you think you´ll need with you to a state hospital. This is not limited to food and creature comforts: since most state hospitals are usually critically short of blood, you will want to have your own donors at the ready. Make sure you know your friends´ and family members´ blood types if you go in for surgery!

Teaching hospitals

If, for financial reasons or out of perverse curiosity, you decide to visit a state hospital for treatment, try to find a teaching hospital near a medical college. These “teaching hospitals” are the most well-maintained and well-funded public hospitals. They are cleaner than other hospitals and may feature such amenities as qualified doctors available 24-hours a day.

The downside to teaching hospitals is that since their doctors are highly qualified, they are balanced by a less-qualified nursing staff (this frees better-qualified nurses for work in hospitals with fewer or less-qualified doctors). Still, the improved hygiene well outweighs this disadvantage.

Nonetheless, there is no reason for most foreigners to seek care at a state hospital except in the most dire emergency or financial circumstances. As long as you have the means, opt for private health care instead.

Local clinics

There are usually no major hospitals (private or public) in rural areas. These areas are served by local clinics staffed by a doctor and one or two nurses. They are ideal for check-ups, vaccinations, prescriptions, and advice (provided you speak Turkish), but are not quipped for major medical procedures.

The services at these clinics are free to the insured and cheap for the uninsured. As long as you speak Turkish reasonably well there is no reason you shouldn´t visit for help or advice with minor issues.

Further reading

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