Doctors' group in S. Korea threatens to stage indefinite walkout unless govt accepts demands

Seoul, June 18 (IANS): South Korea's largest lobby group of community doctors on Tuesday threatened to begin an indefinite walkout starting June 27 unless the government accepts its demands, including revisiting the issue of increasing medical school admissions.

Lim Hyun-taek, head of the Korea Medical Association (KMA), made the remarks at a rally of some 10,000 doctors earlier in the day, when some community doctors staged a one-day walkout in protest of the government's medical reform, reports Yonhap News Agency.

"If doctors' rightful demands are not accepted by the government," Lim said community doctors will indefinitely walk off their jobs beginning June 27.

The demands included revisiting the issue of the medical school quota hike and withdrawing all punitive steps against trainee doctors who have left hospitals since late February.

The government has flatly rejected such demands.

On Tuesday, about 14.9 per cent of the 36,059 community hospitals, excluding dental and oriental medicine clinics, reported to the government that they were taking a day off, according to the health ministry.

The figure was less than half of the corresponding tally for the weeks-long walkout staged by doctors in 2020 in protest against the government's medical reform scheme.

The Korea Severe Disease Association, a local patients' advocacy group, meanwhile, condemned the walkout, noting that doctors "have discarded the Hippocratic oath", which refers to a vow taken by healthcare workers.

Earlier in the day, the government ordered community doctors who joined a one-day walkout to return to work, warning that they would face legal punishment unless they comply with the order.

"If the medical vacuum becomes a reality, we plan to carry out on-site investigations and gather evidence to launch administrative actions, including suspending practices in accordance with the medical law," Health Minister Cho Kyoo-hong said.

"We also plan to take stern actions against social media posts inciting illegal collective action to refuse medical services under the disguise of voluntary participation," Cho added.



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Title: Doctors' group in S. Korea threatens to stage indefinite walkout unless govt accepts demands

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