Trainee doctors at all levels on strike despite gov’t plea during pandemic

SEOUL, Trainee doctors across all levels have begun an indefinite strike, protesting the government’s medical workforce reform plan amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Korean Intern and Resident Association said Sunday that the first- and second-year residents became the last group of trainee doctors to join the protest earlier in the day. Since Friday, interns and third- and fourth-year residents walked out of hospitals.
They are opposed to the government’s plan to increase admission quotas at medical schools.
As part of the country’s medical workforce reform plan, the health ministry is planning to expand admission quotas at medical schools by 4,000 over the next 10 years, starting in 2022, and to open a new public medical school as it seeks to broaden the reach of health care services.
This will increase the number of students admitted annually to medical schools to 3,458 in the 2022-2031 period from the current 3,058, according to the plan.
Doctors have opposed what they called the government’s “hasty and unilateral” decision.
The government has pleaded with the young doctors to return to work, out of concerns that their collective actions could compromise the health care system amid a spike in coronavirus cases nationwide.
On Sunday, South Korea reported 397 cases, the highest total in more than five months. Over the past 10 days, 2,269 cases have been identified.
The health ministry has offered to shelve the reform plan until the COVID-19 situation stabilizes. But the trainee doctors’ association shot back that the ministry couldn’t be trusted, accusing it of a history of deception and about-faces.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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