Doctors‘ refusal to return is putting public health at risk

2024.03.29 09:43:02 | 2024.03.29 09:43:28

[Photo by Yonhap]이미지 확대

[Photo by Yonhap]

South Korean junior doctors and even medical professors joined an industrywide strike over the government’s plan to increase medical school admissions from about 3100 to 5100 annually. In response to the strike, thanks to which hospitals and patients descended into chaos for over a month, the government recently proposed a package of supportive measures for doctors, including state funding for junior doctors’ basic pay and compensation for medical accidents.

Despite this support from the authorities, doctors represented by the Korea Medical Association (KMA), continued walkouts to demand a cancellation of the plan for admissions increase. Some of them, including KMA chairman-elect Lim Hyun-taek, even threatened the government by saying they are ready for a political campaign against the ruling party ahead of the upcoming legislative election on April 10th, 2024.

Their self-serving and stubborn behavior can risk them losing the public’s respect and trust.

As part of its effort to address the collective action while maintaining the plan to increase admissions, the government proposed bills that could serve doctors’ interests, including one that gives legal immunity to doctors involved in medical accidents if they get insured which faces strong opposition from patient advocacy groups. The government also pledged to increase state funding for medical compensations, with annual investments worth more than 10 trillion won ($7.4 billion) for five years in vital medical fields.

The government has been waiting for doctors to return to hospitals instead of pushing ahead with its vow to suspend the licenses of junior doctors who joined the strike. But some of the doctors continue to ignore repeated government demands to end the walkouts and even increase the threat level by using offensive language in their press appearances and official statements.

If doctors continue their collective walkouts while ignoring calls for their return, patients will never trust them again.

By Editorial Team

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