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Medical Licence Suspension Threatened for Striking Doctors in South Korea

South Korea: Government threatens to revoke licences of striking doctors amid healthcare crisis; dialogue urged to resolve the impasse.

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By minal
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Medical Licence Suspension Threatened for Striking Doctors in South Korea

Medical Licence Suspension Threatened for Striking Doctors in South Korea

As the standoff between the South Korean government and striking doctors intensifies, the administration has taken decisive steps to address the burgeoning crisis in the healthcare sector. Nearly 12,000 doctors from 100 teaching hospitals have staged a month-long walkout, resulting in widespread disruptions to medical services across the country.

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Reports indicate that the strike has led to the cancellation of surgeries, prolonged waiting times, and delays in essential treatments, including emergency care. In response, the Ministry of Health has initiated procedures aimed at revoking the medical licences of around 4,900 striking doctors who persist in their defiance of orders to return to work.

Furthermore, administrative notifications have been dispatched, following prior warnings, threatening a three-month suspension for the striking doctors. This disciplinary action could potentially impede their progression towards specialisation for at least a year.

The root of the contentious dispute lies in the government's proposal to significantly increase the number of trainee doctors to address shortages, particularly in rural areas, and accommodate the rising healthcare demands driven by South Korea's ageing population. However, the striking doctors, constituting 93% of the trainee workforce, argue that such an influx of trainees would compromise the quality of medical services. Instead, they advocate for improvements in remuneration and working conditions.

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In response to the escalating crisis, the Ministry of Health has announced measures to bolster staffing levels at selected hospitals by deploying military surgeons and public health doctors. Despite assurances from the ministry that the healthcare system remains stable, concerns persist about the impact of the strike on patient care.

Chun Byung-wang, Director of the Health and Medical Policy Division, emphasised the government's willingness to engage in dialogue and hinted at leniency for doctors who choose to end the strike promptly.

Efforts to resolve the impasse have thus far proven ineffective, with demands mounting for both parties to engage in meaningful negotiations. The Kyunghyang Shinmun newspaper underscored the urgency of dialogue to navigate the current deadlock and alleviate public frustration.

Critics have accused President Yoon Suk Yeol of exploiting the medical reforms to bolster his party's electoral prospects in the upcoming national assembly elections. Despite widespread public support for increased doctor recruitment, opinions remain divided on the appropriate response to the striking physicians, reflecting the complexities of the ongoing dispute.

 

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