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South Korea’s striking doctors warned to return on deadline or face legal action

Most striking doctors haven’t returned to work regardless of a deadline, South Korea’s well being minister mentioned Thursday, warning of legal action if medics don’t finish work stoppages which have plunged hospitals into chaos.

Nearly 10,000 junior doctors — about 80 % of the trainee workforce — handed in a notice and walked off the job last week to protest authorities plans to sharply enhance medical college admissions to deal with shortages and an ageing society.

Doctors say the plan would harm the standard of service, and trade teams have slammed the federal government’s “intimidation tactics”.
Under South Korean legislation, doctors are restricted from striking, and the federal government threatened to arrest and droop the medical licences for medics who don’t return to work by Thursday.

“If junior doctors return by the end of today, we will not hold them accountable,” Health Minister Cho Kyoo-hong mentioned in an interview with native SBS radio early Thursday.

Some trainee doctors who joined the walkout have subsequently returned to their hospitals, Cho mentioned, however “a full-scale return has not yet materialised”.

“As today is the last day of the return, I implore them to do so for the patients.”

The mass work stoppage resulted within the cancellation and postponement of surgical procedures, chemotherapy and C-sections, with the federal government elevating its public well being alert to the best stage.

Cho mentioned the federal government was dedicated to its reform plan, which might enhance medical college admissions by 65 %, citing shortages of well being professionals and a looming demographic disaster.

“If we reduce the scope (of the increase)… it would delay the provision of required medical workforce,” he mentioned.

Polling exhibits up to 75 % of the South Korean public help the reforms, and President Yoon Suk Yeol, who has taken a tough line on the striking doctors, has seen his approval scores tick up forward of an April legislative election.

Seoul says it has one of many lowest doctor-to-patient ratios amongst developed international locations, and the federal government is pushing exhausting to admit 2,000 extra college students to medical colleges yearly, beginning subsequent yr.

The well being ministry requested on Tuesday that police launch a probe into folks related to the walkout, together with 5 linked to the Korean Medical Association (KMA).

Proponents of the reform say doctors are primarily involved the reforms might erode their salaries and social standing.

Published On:

Feb 29, 2024

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