South Korean Doctors Stage Strike Against Government Proposal to Expand Physician Training

South Korean Doctors Stage Strike Against Government Proposal to Expand Physician Training

South Korea, February 21 (Bollywood Fever): Over 6,400 trainee doctors in South Korea have submitted their resignations, with 1,600 junior doctors initiating a strike on Tuesday morning, marking a significant development in the nation’s healthcare landscape.

The protest stems from the government’s proposal to increase the number of medical students admitted annually, aiming to address the country’s low doctor-to-patient ratio. 

South Korean Doctors Stage Strike Against Government Proposal to Expand Physician Training

Currently, South Korea relies on 13,000 trainee doctors to mitigate the shortage. However, the recent government announcement to add 2,000 additional slots to the yearly quota of medical students has sparked controversy.

While South Korea boasts a highly privatized healthcare system with well-paid doctors, critics argue that the strike is driven by doctors’ reluctance to face increased competition. 

Conversely, doctors argue that expanding the quota fails to address shortages in specialized fields such as emergency care, where pay is lower and working conditions are challenging.

In response to the strike, hundreds of doctors marched in Seoul and other cities, criticizing the government’s lack of consultation regarding the quota expansion plan. The Korean Medical Association even threatened an “indefinite strike” if the proposal persists.

Prime Minister Han Duck-soo urged doctors to reconsider their mass resignations, emphasizing the threat to public health posed by such actions. 

Health authorities issued back-to-work orders for resigning trainee doctors and warned of consequences for participants in the strike.

The strike has already impacted medical services, with hospitals reporting delays and cancellations. 

Emergency measures have been implemented to address the impending doctor shortage, including expanding telemedicine services and utilizing military hospitals.

Authorities have taken a firm stance against the strike, suspending the medical licenses of two senior members of the Korea Medical Association and threatening arrests of strike leaders.

This dispute echoes similar conflicts in the past over proposals to increase medical school admissions, highlighting the ongoing tension between doctors and the government. 

Despite this, public support for the current plan remains high, with a majority of respondents expressing approval in a recent Gallup Korea poll.

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