As a result of protests, South Korea threatens to revoke the practice permits of 4,900 doctors

Jakarta, CNBC Indonesia – The South Korean government has begun taking steps to suspend the medical licenses of thousands of doctors who are on strike. Currently, concerns are increasing over the impact on frontline health services due to the dispute that has been going on for a month.

Quoting The Guardian, the strike carried out by nearly 12,000 doctors from 100 teaching hospitals has led to the cancellation of operations, longer waiting times and delays in treatment, including for patients seeking emergency treatment.

Meanwhile, doctors demonstrated against the government's medical policies near the presidential office in Seoul, South Korea.

South Korea's Health Ministry said it has implemented procedures that could cause 4,900 striking doctors to lose their licenses if they continue to defy orders to return to work.

The ministry also said it had sent an administrative notice, following up on a warning that the strikers would be subject to a three-month suspension. The penalty could delay their ability to qualify as a specialist for at least a year.

The increasingly bitter dispute stems from protests over government plans to increase the number of trained doctors to address shortages in rural areas as well as increasing demand for services due to South Korea's rapidly aging population.

But the 11,994 striking doctors, who make up 93% of the trainee workforce, say that recruiting an additional 2,000 students every year from 2025 will jeopardize the quality of health services. Instead, they called for improved pay and conditions.

This week, South Korea's Health Ministry said it would assign 20 military surgeons and 138 public health doctors to increase staffing at certain hospitals. However, the ministry denied that health services in the country had fallen into disarray.

Chun Byung-wang, director of the ministry's health and medical policy division, suggested that returning doctors would avoid punishment.

“The government will consider this situation and protect trainee doctors if they return to work before the administrative action is completed,” said Chun, quoted from The Guardian, Tuesday (12/3/2024).

He added: “The government will not give up on dialogue. The door is always open. The government will respect and listen to the opinions of the medical community as a companion to medical reform.”

In an effort to resolve the dispute, the South Korean government last week announced measures to improve pay and conditions for medical personnel still in training. As well as, a review of work shifts lasting 36 hours which is a major complaint among junior medical personnel.

But the concession failed to appease doctors. The demand for both parties to negotiate is increasing.

Critics of the recruitment plan accused the country's conservative president, Yoon Suk Yeol, of using medical reform to boost the People Power party's prospects in next month's national assembly elections.

[Gambas:Video CNBC]

Next Article

8 Recipes for Longevity from a Japanese Doctor Almost 100 Years Old