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Saturday, 03 February 2018 14:28

Kaş Devlet Hospital update and SGK changes

Kaş Hospital Kaş Hospital

In this report we tell you what we discovered when we went to check out the State (Devlet) Hospital in Kaş recently, plus we have some worrying news about changes in the SGK rules for British expats.  

First, we look at Kaş hospital.  It’s been a few years since the new state hospital opened near Kaş so we thought it was time to pay a visit to see what services are available.  To be precise, it was this time three years ago that staff moved out of the old hospital in Kaş and into this new building a few kilometres out of town.

Built at a cost of over 10 million Turkish lira it has fifty in-patient beds (some with wonderful sea views) and now employs over 70 members of staff.  There are currently fourteen senior doctors and specialists at Kaş Devlet Hospital.  We went to see the senior physician in charge, Dr Serdar Yılmaz to find out more.

Dr Serdar YılmazOriginally from the east of Turkey, after graduating from Malatya İnönü University in 2007 Dr Yılmaz (pictured left) gained experience in a number of city hospitals.  He joined Kaş Devlet Hospital from Antalya Kepez Devlet Hospital one month ago.  His specialist area is urology.

He told KTLN that since it opened in 2015 the hospital has gradually become busier, attracting more staff and bringing new equipment into service.

He is delighted to be joining Kaş hospital where he feels he can continue to develop an increasing range of health services for the local population.  He told KTLN, "I am happy to be here.  I want the people of Kaş district to get the best possible service". 

Dr Yılmaz's office has an amazing view overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.  We asked him what he thought about living on this part of the Turquoise Coast.  "It's heaven" he replied.

Medical services
As well as the accident and emergency department the hospital provides health services for a wide range of medical conditions.  Services/specialists include:

  • Ear, nose, throat (ENT)
  • Psychiatric services
  • Physiotherapy
  • Orthopedics
  • Endoscopy
  • Colonoscopy
  • Cardiology
  • Gynaecology
  • Urology
  • Ophthalmology (optician)
  • Dentistry *

*There are four dentists at Kaş hospital who can deal with a range of dental problems however at the present time they are unable to do implants.

We also learned that Kaş hospital is fully equipped to do sünnet operations (circumcisions) however we expect there to be little demand for this service from foreigners.

This year the hospital is expected to recruit additional specialists to extend the medical services available.  These include a plastic surgeon, a dermatologist and a paediatric specialist.

Facilities and equipment

Kaş hospital has a kidney dialysis unit, and intensive care unit (ICU) and three operating theatres.  There is currently one anaesthetist with another due to join them in a few months.

When the new hospital first opened they had quite a shopping list of medical equipment.  Happily they have acquired some incredibly useful kit including an Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner, Computed Tomography (CT) scanner and X-ray machines.

Below: The MRI scanner at Kaş hospital.

Kaş Devlet Hospital

Below: The CT scanner at Kaş hospital.

Kaş Devlet Hospital

They do not have a hyperbaric chamber which would be useful for treating divers with decompression sickness (the bends).  The closest ones are in Antalya and Bodrum.  The hospital has officially requested such a facility but it may take some time.  The problem here is not funding but a lack of trained specialists to operate this kind of facility.  Hyperbaric chambers are useful not only for treating decompression sickness, but also certain other medical conditions, where they can speed up recovery times.

Laboratory facilities
The hospital has its own laboratory which is able to produce same day results for a number of tests, including blood and urine tests.  Many of us find the idea of same day test results impressive.

Below: The main hospital entrance at the rear of the building.

Accident and emergency services
The entrance to the A&E department is located at the front of the building. 

In 2017 the A&E department saw more than 10,000 patients.  As you might expect their busiest time is in the tourist season when the populations of Kaş and Kalkan swell with holidaymakers.

Kaş Devlet Hospital

They can cope with most accidents but there could be some cases such as a bleed on the brain or a severe heart attack, where they will stabilise a patient for onward transfer to a bigger hospital - normally in Antalya.

In certain time critical cases, rather than send a patient by road in an ambulance they can call for an air ambulance helicopter.  We are aware of Kalkan residents who have benefitted from this incredible service.

However the helicopter is only available during daylight hours, but if a time critical transfer is required at night it has been known for a small plane to be dispatched.  There have been two such instances where a light aircraft sent from Antalya has landed on a straight section of road between Kaş and Finike and the patient has been driven from Kaş hospital to meet it.

These air transfers are exceptional but the fact that they are an option is reassuring. 

Kaş Devlet Hospital

Below: The reception desk at the main entrance (at the rear of the building).  Some staff speak foreign languages including English, Russian and Italian.

Kaş Devlet Hospital

Access to Kaş hospital - the D400
Kalkan residents may be aware that roadworks are taking place on the D400 road close to Kaş hospital.  They are widening the road and cutting through some of the bends - possibly to make ambulance journeys more comfortable for patients. 

There is a diversion through the village of Gökseki for people travelling between Kalkan and Kaş however please note that it is now possible to access the hospital from the Kalkan side using the new section of road, even though there is a partial barrier in place.  If you're going all the way to Kaş you still need to use the diversion.

The cost of treatment
The hospital in Kaş is a state run facility - the equivalent of the UK’s NHS.

Treatment for Turkish citizens is generally free.  Foreign residents who have got the state operated health insurance SGK are treated the same as Turkish citizens, i.e. mostly free, although when expats join the scheme, (typically later in life), pre-existing chronic medical conditions will not be treated free of charge.  But please see breaking news below.

Foreigners who don't have SGK (holidaymakers and expat residents) will normally have to pay for treatment.  If you do have to pay something in a state hospital the charges tend to be significantly less than those levied by private hospitals.

Breaking news - SGK
There is some breaking news about SGK which is causing concern in the British expat community.  Since we visited Kaş State Hospital last week, we have received feedback from a number of British readers who have got SGK, telling us that they no longer appear to be covered for the cost of treatment for chronic medical conditions - things such as cardiovascular problems, diabetes, cataracts, hip and knee replacements etc.

This message has come from British expats using Esnaf private hospital in Fethiye - a hospital that is used by many people from Kalkan.  Previously when such illnesses were treated at Esnaf a patient with SGK health insurance would expect to pay a relatively small amount with SGK picking up the rest of the cost.  Now British expats with SGK are being told that because Britain and Turkey do not have a reciprocal arrangement to cover each others medical costs, treatment for chronic illnesses will no longer be paid for, and the patient has to pay the full cost of treatment.

We spoke to Esnaf hospital and they told us this is the case for all private hospitals and not just them.  But it also begs the question, are British expats with SGK covered for chronic illnesses at state hospitals any more? 

We were aware that pre-existing chronic medical conditions were not covered, but if SGK is now saying that chronic conditions that emerged after someone was accepted on to the scheme are not covered this is a significant and worrying change, and indeed it does not reflect the cover that is set out on the official SGK web page.

We should point out that the issue we are reporting relates to British citizens living in Turkey.  We do not know the situation for all foreign nationals, although we are aware for example that citizens from Holland; Germany; Belgium; Austria and France do benefit from reciprocal arrangements on health care, so they should not be affected by the apparent change in policy. 

This change, which appears to have come in unnoticed some time in 2017, will be of great concern to many British expats and we are investigating.  We will publish our findings as soon as we have the facts.  If you have any recent experience in this regard we would like to hear from you.  Contact KTLN 

The cost of SGK
The premiums for SGK health cover increase every year.  In January 2018 they increased by 14%, from 427 TL to 487 TL per month.  However if you translate the cost into sterling, because of the changing exchange rate the cost has gone down by 4.5% from £98 to just under £94.  The big question now though is what we get for our money. 




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