South Korea not to revoke striking doctors’ licences for breakthrough

Seoul: The government is likely to halt the suspension of licences and other administrative steps against striking trainee doctors in an effort to seek a breakthrough in months-long medical service disruptions, officials said on Monday.

Health Minister Cho Kyoo-hong was scheduled to hold a press briefing after a meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters, during which he was to announce measures that would help facilitate dialogue and resolve the ongoing standoff with the medical community over the medical school admission quota hike.

More than 12,000 trainee doctors, or more than 90 per cent of the total, have left their worksites since late February in protest of the government’s medical reform plan, and most of them have rejected calls for returning to work, reports Yonhap news agency.

As a latest, key appeasement measure, the government is expected to halt administrative steps even for those who opt not to return to hospitals.

“Some trainee doctors are reluctant to return to work out of concerns that the move would lead to punishment against their defiant colleagues,” a ministry official said.

“If we suspend administrative measures altogether, that would help induce more to go back to hospitals,” he said, adding that it would be a “last resort” for the government to address the situation.

Doctors have urged the government to cancel, rather than suspend, administrative steps against striking doctors, but it would not do that in consideration of those who already ended their strike and other legal issues, officials said.

Despite strong opposition from doctors, the government finalised an admissions quota hike of some 1,500 students for medical schools for next year in an effort to address problems stemming from the shortage of doctors.


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