Trainee doctors launch strike in protest over medical workforce reform

SEOUL, Trainee doctors at hospitals on Friday launched a one-day strike in protest of the government’s medical workforce reform plan, causing concerns about potential inconvenience for patients using general hospitals nationwide.
The Korean Intern Resident Association (KIRA), a group of interns and resident doctors, began the 24-hour walkout earlier in the day in opposition to the government’s plan to raise admission quotas at medical schools.
Around 70 to 80 percent of the group’s 16,000 members are known to be taking part in the strike.
The Korea Medical Association (KMA), which speaks for 130,000 doctors, also plans to stage a separate general strike next Friday.
Doctors in training working at hospitals’ essential fields linked to patients’ lives, including intensive care units, surgery and emergency rooms, joined the strike.
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.
Major general hospitals in Seoul plan to mobilize clinical doctors, medical professors and other health workers to reduce possible disruptions.
The government earlier called on trainee doctors to retract their planned strike as it could disrupt the medical system amid the new coronavirus outbreak.
The health ministry and KIRA made last-ditch efforts Thursday to resolve the issue, but the talks fell through.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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