South Korea warns striking doctors to return to work or face severe economic sanctions

Doctors in training attend a meeting at the Korean Medical Association building in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

The South Korean government warned thousands of striking doctors on Wednesday to return to work immediately or face legal action. The strikes have canceled many surgeries and affected other hospital operations.

Some 7,800 resident and practicing doctors In South Korea, they left their posts this week Opposition to the government's plan to admit more medical students.

Officials say The maximum number of students should be increased by 2,000 seats The country's medical schools will begin next year to manage a rapidly aging South Korean population. But doctors' groups opposed the plan, saying universities were not ready to provide quality education to many students. They also say that the medical expenses of the government will increase due to this scheme of the government.

2,000 additional seats available “meaningless figure”The Korean Resident Practitioners Association said in a statement on Tuesday. “We hope the government will reconsider its plan and create a measure that reflects the voice of practicing doctors.”

Doctors at the beginning of their careers often assist senior doctors in surgeries and inpatient care. Their strikes have complicated work in hospitals. The Ministry of Health said on Wednesday that officials 58 complaints were received from citizens regarding the strike.

Doctors march against the government's medical policy near the presidential office in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, February 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

“Joint action that cripples people's lives and safety cannot be justified for any reason,” Defense and Home Affairs Minister Lee Chang-min told a news conference with other senior officials.

Lee said the government has issued an official order for the striking doctors to return to work. According to the Medical Act and other regulations, the government will deal with doctors' strikes with a firm hand, he said.

See also  Putin meets leaders in Armenia and Azerbaijan: Nagorno-Karabakh reconstruction plan agreed - Sources News

South Korean medical law allows the government to issue return-to-work orders for doctors and other health workers when there are serious concerns about public health. If they refuse to comply with the order, they face up to three years in prison or a fine of 30 million won ($22,480), which can also lead to the revocation of their medical licenses under the law..

Justice Minister Park Sung-jae accused some doctors of trying to protect “their interests” and said that if they refused to be reinstated, authorities would press charges and arrest their leaders.

Practicing doctors, on their part, said the order to return to government service was a form of intimidation and should be withdrawn immediately. Many senior doctors support their less experienced colleagues.

A patient was transferred to Busan National University Hospital in Busan, South Korea on February 21, 2024. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

According to a recent survey A majority of South Koreans support the government's plan. Some critics oppose a large increase in university places because doctors, one of the highest-paid professions in South Korea, worry about losing income.

By Tuesday night, About 8,820 out of 13,000 practicing doctors had resigned from their hospitals.. No resignations have been accepted, but about 7,810 doctors have left their jobs, Deputy Health Minister Park Min-soo told reporters.

To manage the shortage of trained doctors, the government has opened military hospitals to the public, extended the opening hours of general medical institutions and made emergency medical centers open 24 hours a day. However, experts said if the strikes continue or join senior doctors, it could cause serious problems for South Korea's public medical service.

See also  Nicaragua protesters ask EU for road map to isolate Ordega regime

South Korea has a total of 140,000 doctors. The Korea Medical Association said it plans to hold a rally in support of practicing doctors, but has not decided whether to go on strike.

(With information from AP)

Esmond Harmon

"Entrepreneur. Social media advocate. Amateur travel guru. Freelance introvert. Thinker."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top