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Health

Medical crisis deepens in S. Korea, disruption in healthcare services set to worsen

IANS | March 30, 2024 03:17 PM

SEOUL: An association of medical professors on Saturday urged the government to exclude Second Vice Health Minister Park Min-soo from making media responses to facilitate talks in the upcoming negotiations for medical reform.

The association, behind a campaign for medical professors' resignations, made the request one day after Park firmly rejected the medical community's call for modifying the government's plan to markedly raise the medical school enrollment quota.

During a press briefing, the vice health minister said the government will not repeat "the unfortunate history of succumbing to a specific job group" and vowed to complete the medical reform in accordance with the rule of law, reports Yonhap news agency.

"If Park, who unilaterally delivers the government's opinion, steps back from media responses, I think it could facilitate dialogue, " Bang Jae-seung, head of the emergency response committee for the council of medical school professors, told a press conference at Seoul National University Hospital.

Park previously came under fire for pronouncing the Korean word for doctors as a derogative term during a press briefing, though he claimed it was a slip of the tongue.

The association also recommended medical professors curtail work hours by focusing on essential medical services amid the protracted walkout by trainee doctors at major general hospitals.

"Although we have been treating patients without constraint of time and reducing their numbers, it seems that we have reached physical limits. We will adjust our work hours, " Bang said.

More than 90 per cent of the country's 13, 000 trainee doctors have been on strike in the form of mass resignations since February 20 to protest the government's decision to increase the medical school enrollment quota by 2, 000 seats from the current 3, 058 starting next year.

Medical service disruptions are expected to worsen further as the professors, who serve as senior doctors at major hospitals, vowed to reduce their weekly work hours to 52 by adjusting surgeries and other medical treatments and to "minimize" medical services for outpatients.

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