Yoon urges swift medical reform as medical professors seek to join mass resignations

Mar 13, 2024, 10:17 am

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Medical staff walk in a hospital in Seoul on Tuesday, when the government expressed concern over the potential resignation en masse of medical school professors at Seoul National University (SNU)./ Source: Yonhap News

AsiaToday reporters Ji Hwan-hyuk & Hong Sun-mi

The government will review issuing an order for medical professors to maintain work in protest of a deadlock over a walkout by trainee doctors. President Yoon Suk-yeol urged Tuesday swift medical reform under the principle.

Second Vice Health Minister Park Min-soo told reporters that the government is reviewing various administrative measures. “The government is entitled to issue various orders to continue providing medical treatment, as professors are basically medical workers,” he said during a media briefing. 

“Professors’ expression of collective resignation is unlikely to help solve the problem,” Park said. “We ask for the wisdom and courageous actions of many people so that the problem is no longer aggravated.”

In response, the Korean Medical Association (KMA) urged the government to listen to the voices of professors, who are the “last pillar of essential medical service and education” in Korea. “If the government makes a mistake of overusing various orders to medical professors, including back-to-work orders, the medical system would collapse,” the body said. 

The government also announced a plan to enforce new hospitals to hire more fellow doctors by counting two trainee doctors as one specialist, which aims to ease the burden on trainee doctors and have them better focus on their training. It will also focus on supporting “transition of specialist-centered hospitals” of national university hospitals and local training hospitals next year. By expanding the employment of specialists, the government will reduce the number of tasks that are given to specialists, and support division of tasks among human resources.

As of Monday, the government had set prior notices of license suspension to a total of 5,556 trainee doctors who have defied the state return-to-work order. 

At a meeting held at the presidential office in Yongsan, President Yoon Suk-yeol has instructed his senior secretaries to push ahead with medical reform, including increasing the medical school enrollment quota, in a swift manner based on principle. 

An official at the presidential office said collective action taken by medical school professors will be no exception to steps the government will take on those who violate the nation’s medical law, stating that the president had ordered such measures to be taken without exception. 

#medical reform #medical school professors #resignation #SNU 
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