Home South Korean government issues demand to striking doctors amid healthcare crisis

South Korean government issues demand to striking doctors amid healthcare crisis

south korean government issues demand to striking doctors amid healthcare crisis

Amidst a week-long strike that has crippled healthcare services, the South Korean government has issued to young doctors, demanding their return to work by the end of February or face severe consequences. 

The strike, initiated by two-thirds of the nation’s residents and intern doctors, protests the government’s plan to increase medical school admissions to address a perceived shortage of doctors in a rapidly aging society.

The government’s plea was conveyed by Safety Minister Lee Sang-min during a task force meeting, citing the escalating chaos in hospitals and the perilous state of emergency services. 

Minister Lee urged the doctors to return to their posts by February 29, assuring them they would not be held responsible for the disruptions caused during the protest. 

The government has previously hinted at legal action, including prosecution, arrest, and revocation of medical licenses, against doctors failing to comply with the back-to-work order.

Vice Health Minister Park Min-soo reiterated the government’s stance, warning that those who did not resume work by March 1 could face a minimum three-month suspension of their medical licenses and other legal actions. T

The protesting doctors argue that the government should prioritize addressing pay and working conditions before increasing the number of physicians.

While senior doctors and private practitioners have refrained from participating in the walkout, they have rallied against the government’s plan to expand medical school quotas. 

President Yoon Suk Yeol has spearheaded the initiative, garnering support from about 76% of respondents, regardless of political affiliation, according to a recent Gallup Korea poll. 

The plan aims to increase the number of new medical students by 2,000 annually, along with legal protections against malpractice suits and prosecution.

In response to the shortage of doctors in critical disciplines and regional areas, the government plans to provide incentives for doctors practicing in pediatrics, general surgery, and underserved regions. 

However, some doctors allege that the government’s proposal is politically motivated, aiming to secure votes in the upcoming April general election. Medical professors at Seoul National University, one of the top medical schools in the country, have called for the postponement of discussions on the plan until after the elections.

As the deadline approaches, the standoff between the government and protesting doctors intensifies, raising concerns about the impact on patient care and the broader healthcare system in South Korea.

Sources: (1), (2)

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