In South Korea, government identifies 8,000 doctors on strike, facing suspension

The South Korean government said on Tuesday March 5 that it had identified 7,800 medical interns who continued their strike despite the ultimatum set by the government, which committed to suspending their medical licenses

In South Korea, government identifies 8,000 doctors on strike, facing suspension

The South Korean government said on Tuesday March 5 that it had identified 7,800 medical interns who continued their strike despite the ultimatum set by the government, which committed to suspending their medical licenses.

Some 9,000 young doctors resigned and stopped working almost two weeks ago to protest an increase in medical school admissions from next year, a move aimed at improving healthcare provision for a ageing population. Most of these professionals continued their movement after the February 29 deadline set by the government for them to return to work, under penalty of sanctions.

“As soon as we have confirmation that they have violated the order to return to work, we will send them a notice” notifying them that their medical license has been suspended, the second deputy minister said at a press conference of health, Park Min-soo.

Many surgical operations canceled

The widely followed work stoppage wreaked havoc on South Korean hospitals, forcing them to cancel crucial treatments and surgeries, prompting the government to raise its public health alert to the highest level. According to the Ministry of Health, almost half of the surgeries planned in some major hospitals have been canceled since last week.

South Korean law prohibits doctors from striking, and the government this week asked police to investigate those linked to the movement. The South Korean government wants 2,000 more students admitted to medical schools each year starting in 2025, to improve one of the lowest doctor-to-population ratios among developed countries, he says.

Doctors fear that the reform will erode the quality of services and medical education, but its supporters accuse them of wanting to preserve their salaries and their social status. According to polls, around 75% of the population supports this reform.