South Korean Health Ministry Suspends Licenses Of 5,000 Defiant Trainee Doctors

South Korean Health Ministry Suspends Licenses Of 5,000 Defiant Trainee Doctors

Deputy Health Minister Jun Byung-wang said that it had completed sending the notices to 4,944 junior doctors last week.

ANIUpdated: Monday, March 11, 2024, 11:46 AM IST
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South Korean Health Ministry Suspends Licenses Of 5,000 Defiant Trainee Doctors | Unsplash

The South Korean health ministry sent prior notices on Monday to suspend the medical licenses of around 5,000 trainee doctors who have defied an order to return to work and have been protesting against the government’s proposal to increase medical school admissions, reported Yonhap News Agency.

Deputy Health Minister Jun Byung-wang said that it had completed sending the notices to 4,944 junior doctors last week.

After receiving the notices, the doctors will be required to submit their opinions on punitive measures by March 25, according to Yonhap News Agency.

With the government vowing to take legal action against junior doctors making threats to their colleagues, or impeding their return to hospitals, the health ministry will also open a hotline on Tuesday for the physicians wishing to return, Jun said.

“The government will spare no efforts to help trainee doctors wishing to return to hospitals,” Jun added.

As many as 11,994 trainee doctors left their worksites at 100 teaching hospitals as of Friday, accounting for some 93 per cent of all junior doctors, the ministry stated, Yonhap News Agency reported.

Health Minister Cho Kyoo-hong said that the government will take lenient measures if trainee doctors return to work before administrative procedures to suspend their licenses are completed.

“As we plan to proactively extend leniency to junior doctors who return before the conclusion of administrative procedures, we encourage their prompt comeback,” Cho said.

Reportedly, local hospitals have been experiencing cancellations and delays in surgeries and emergency medical treatment as medical interns and residents remained silent to the government’s call for them to return by the end of February.

The government has started deploying 158 military and public health doctors to local hospitals for a four-week period to cover the shortage of medical staff, according to Yonhap News Agency.

Last week, the health ministry also allowed nurses to perform some of the roles of doctors, including CPR.

“When necessary, the government plans to deploy more military and public health doctors, along with more state health insurance funds,” Cho said.

To resolve the shortage of doctors in rural areas and essential medical fields, the government has been pushing to increase physician numbers.

Moreover, doctors said that the quota hikes will undermine the quality of medical education and other services and result in higher medical costs for patients, Yonhap News Agency reported.

They have also called for measures to first address the underpaid specialists and improve legal protection against excessive medical malpractice lawsuits.

Last week, Seoul witnessed a significant protest as thousands of doctors took to the streets to voice their opposition to the South Korean government’s proposal to increase medical school admissions, CNN reported.

The demonstration also highlighted broader concerns regarding insufficient support for the nation’s healthcare system.

The protesting doctors said that the government should address a spectrum of challenges facing the healthcare system rather than merely increasing the annual intake of medical students.

The key concerns included specific field staffing, government remuneration for essential medical treatments, and the establishment of a robust infrastructure to support the education of a growing number of medical students.

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