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Friday April 19, 2024

S Korea says to start legal action against doctors over walkout

Around 9,000 resident and intern doctors, or about 70 percent of the country’s total, have walked off the job since Feb 20

By REUTERS
March 05, 2024
Doctors protest against the government’s plan to raise the annual enrollment quota at medical schools in Seoul on February 15, 2024. — AFP
Doctors protest against the government’s plan to raise the annual enrollment quota at medical schools in Seoul on February 15, 2024. — AFP

SEOUL: South Korea’s health minister said on Monday authorities will start inspecting hospitals in order to take legal action against trainee doctors who have ignored an ultimatum to end a walkout over government plans to increase medical school admissions.

Around 9,000 resident and intern doctors, or about 70 percent of the country’s total, have walked off the job since Feb 20, leading to the cancellation of some surgeries and treatments and straining emergency departments. The government had warned the protesting trainee physicians they could face administrative and legal penalties, including the suspension of their medical licences and fines or a jail term if they did not return to work the end of last month.

“From today, we plan to conduct on-site inspections to confirm trainee doctors who have not returned, and take action according to the law and principle without exception,” Health Minister Cho Kyoo-hong told a televised briefing.“Please keep in mind that doctors who have not returned may experience serious problems in their personal career path.”For protesting doctors who returned to the field, Choo said the government would consider extenuating circumstances when contemplating any action against them.