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(LEAD) Doctors to reconsider walkout if gov’t shows flexible stance

Doctors' largest lobby group said Thursday it may consider withdrawing the planned walkout if the government shows a flexible stance over a medical school quota hike. The Korea Medical Association (KMA), a major lobby group for doctors, earlier announced the plan to stage a one-day walkout next week, which could involve community doctors and medical professors nationwide. "We do not have much time left. If the government does not show changes in its stance by the weekend, it cannot stop the nationwide walkout scheduled for next week," a KMA spokesperson said. "If the government shows a change in its stance, we will reconsider the walkout," the official added. The KMA also called for the government to discuss the controversial medical reform measures with the organization as the representative body of the entire medical community. "The biggest hurdle in the deadlock is that the government underestimates the KMA and is seeking talks with some universities, hospitals and other organizations," the official s aid. Despite fierce protests by trainee doctors, the government finalized an admissions quota hike of some 1,500 students for medical schools late last month, marking the first such increase in 27 years. Meanwhile, lawmakers of the parliamentary health committee will meet with medical professors of Seoul National University (SNU) next week to seek a breakthrough in their planned strike against the government's medical reform plan, officials said. Last week, professors, who serve as senior doctors at hospitals affiliated with SNU, announced a decision to indefinitely suspend their hospital operations starting June 17 in support of trainee doctors who have left their worksites since February against the government's medical school enrollment quota increase. With no immediate breakthrough having been made over the conflict between the government and the medical community, the lawmakers of the parliamentary health and welfare committee will hold dialogue with SNU professors on Sunday to discuss the issue, acc ording to the officials. "We received a proposal for talks with the National Assembly yesterday. We've yet to set details about what to discuss, but we will ask what they can do to help resolve the situation," an official of the SNU's emergency response committee for professors said. The SNU professors have said they will go ahead with the indefinite strike until the government admits to its responsibility for causing the current medical crisis and take practical measures. The emergency committee met with Prime Minister Han Duck-soo on Tuesday and called for the government's role to address the issue. The government has also said it has continued to have talks with doctors, though there seems little progress. Source: Yonhap News Agency

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