Gov’t to order private practitioners to stay on the job

Jun 11, 2024, 10:04 am

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Health Minister Cho Kyoo-hong speaks during a meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters in Sejong Government Complex on June 10, 2024./ Photographed by Han Jae-yoon

AsiaToday reporter Han Jae-yoon

The government has decided to respond to a plan by the Korean Medical Association (KMA) to launch an all-out collective action next Tuesday with administrative orders. It plans to conduct a legal review to determine whether the association has violated the Fair Trade Act, and issue an order for doctors in private practice to stay on the job. 

“We will launch a legal review on whether the KMA has violated the Fair Trade Act,” Health Minister Cho Kyoo-hong said during a meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters on Monday. “It is a necessary and minimum measure needed to protect the lives and health of the people,” he said.

“Collective refusal of medical treatment is an act of abandoning the ethical and professional obligation of doctors who put patients’ life first,” the minister said, adding, “It will be a strictly illegal act that destroys the public interest value of medical care and social trust in doctors that have been built up for a long time.”

The health ministry is reviewing the law, judging that the medical association violated Article 51 of the Fair Trade Act.

During a separate briefing, Deputy Health Minister Jun Byung-wang said local governments are instructed to order hospitals to maintain operations on June 18. 

“Refusing treatments is an intolerable act that threatens the lives of the people and patients. We have no choice but to take stern actions against the walkout in accordance with the government’s constitutional duty,” Jun said.

The health ministry said that medical institutions planning to proceed with the group action would be required to report to their local governments of their intention by Thursday. “It is time to put our heads together and solve the problem through dialogue rather than conducting collective action that harms the people,” Jun said. “The government is trying to contact the medical community to talk regardless of the format anytime, anywhere, and will continue to make efforts to talk.”

#health ministry #collective action #KMA #order 
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