Hopes rise for dialogue between gov’t and doctors

Mar 19, 2024, 10:08 am

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President Yoon Suk-yeol shakes hands with a doctor at Asan Medical Center in Seoul on March 18, 2024./Source: Presidential Office

AsiaToday reporters Ji Hwan-hyuk & Hong Sun-mi

There are hopeful expectations that both the government and doctors may take a step back and make a concession following a month-long confrontation over the medical school quota hike policy.

The government, which had maintained its plan of increasing medical school admissions by 2,000, said it’s “open to dialogue” with doctors regarding the policy, while the medical community offered an official apology to the public for having caused significant medical service disruptions.

President Yoon Suk-yeol met with doctors for the first time since the trainee doctors’ walkout, and asked veteral physicians to “trust the government and engage in dialogue.”

During a radio interview, Jang Sang-yoon, senior presidential secretary for social policy, said the government is open to dialogue at any time to discuss the matter with doctors. When asked about the need to make even a little change to the government’s position over adding the 2,000 slots, he said, “We are open to that agenda.”

The medical community also showed forward-looking attitude on the same day. Bang Jae-seung, chief of the emergency committee of medical school professors, made an apology to the public for the disruptions to medical services. “We have forgotten the fact that without the people, doctors will not exist, either. We sincerely apology for the disruption caused by this incident and making the public watch the situation with anxiety,” Bang said. 

The subtle changes both the government and doctors are showing to their positions seem to come after the public fatigue reached its peak with medical service disruptions, giving burden on both sides with deteriorated public opinion.

In the meantime, Yoon met with doctors at Asan Medical Center in Seoul and urged them to trust the government and come forward for dialogue. 

“I ask you to stop adhering to the position that doctors cannot engage in any dialogue unless the government adjusts the number of new slots in the enrollment data, and persuade your juniors by emphasizing the importance of the future,” Yoon said. “I assure you, there will be no compromise in the quality of medical services,” he said. 

#Yoon Suk-yeol #doctors #dialogue 
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