S. Korea’s Health Minister appeals to medical professors not to resign

March 15, 2024
South Korean Health Minister Cho Kyoo-hong on Friday appealed to the medical professors not to resign,

Seoul, March 15 (IANS) South Korean Health Minister Cho Kyoo-hong on Friday appealed to the medical professors not to resign, amid the ongoing rift between the trainee doctors and the government over enrollment at medical schools.

Kyoo-hong said that the resignation of medical professors in support of the prolonged walkout by junior doctors may significantly affect services at major hospitals in the country, Yonhap reported.

More than 90 per cent of the country’s 13,000 trainee doctors have walked off the job for nearly four weeks in the form of mass resignations to protest the government’s decision to increase enrollment at medical schools by 2,000 spots, the report said.

“The public will find it difficult to understand medical professors participating in collective action by abandoning patients when they should focus on persuading trainee doctors and students to return to hospitals and schools,” Kyoo-hong told a government response meeting.

“If professors are concerned about junior doctors and students, please persuade them to return to the place of education,” the minister said.

Kyoo-hong said health authorities will have top-tier medical emergency centres to prioritise patients in critical condition.

“We will ensure timely treatment for patients in critical condition at large-scale medical facilities,” he said, addressing concerns over cancellations and delays in surgeries and emergency treatment at local hospitals amid the prolonged walkout.

Last week, Yonhap reported that the South Korean government is expected to send notice to suspend the medical licenses of about 13,000 trainee doctors. The notice of suspension will be the first disciplinary action against striking doctors.

Deputy Health Minister Jun Byung-wang said defiant junior doctors can not seek another job as the government’s return-to-work order for them remains in effect. He noted that some trainee doctors who left their worksites and found another job would face punishment.

While the government has been pushing to sharply raise the number of medical students, doctors noted that the quota hikes will undermine the quality of medical education and result in higher medical costs for patients, the report said.



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