South Korea to take legal steps against striking trainee doctors

On Monday, South Korea's Health Minister announced that the government will begin inspections at hospitals to legally address the situation of trainee doctors who have continued their strike, despite being given an ultimatum to return to work.

Publication: 04.03.2024 - 11:37
South Korea to take legal steps against striking trainee doctors
Abone Ol google-news

This strike comes in response to government proposals to increase the number of medical school admissions. Approximately 9,000 resident and intern doctors, making up about 70% of all trainee doctors in the country, have been on strike since February 20. The action has led to canceled surgeries and treatments, burdening emergency departments significantly.

Health Minister Cho Kyoo-hong, in a televised briefing, stated, "Starting today, we will conduct on-site inspections to identify trainees who have not returned to work and will take legal action without exception, according to law and principle." He further cautioned that doctors remaining on strike could face severe repercussions in their careers. However, for those who have ended their strike, the government will consider mitigating circumstances before deciding on any punitive measures.

In a further development, Vice Health Minister Park Min-soo indicated that the government plans to suspend the medical licenses of approximately 7,000 trainee doctors who have abandoned their posts. Patients and their families, deeply concerned about the ongoing standoff's impact on medical care, have urged for a swift resolution through dialogue.

The standoff shows little sign of resolution, with thousands of doctors participating in a rally organized by the Korean Medical Association, opposing the government's stance. The World Medical Association has criticized the South Korean government's attempts to suppress the medical community's voice, supporting the right to collective action, including strikes. Protesters argue that the government should prioritize improving pay and working conditions before increasing medical student numbers. The government maintains that the expansion, planned to introduce 2,000 additional medical school spots by 2025, is crucial for addressing healthcare needs in South Korea's aging society. Despite the controversy, public support for increasing medical school admissions remains high, with a Gallup Korea poll indicating 76% approval across political lines. Critics argue President Yoon Suk Yeol's administration has rushed into this decision without sufficient consultation, especially with parliamentary elections looming in April.

Most Read News