South Korea: More than 6,400 trainee doctors submit resignations

Seoul: More than 6,400 trainee doctors have submitted their resignations to protest the South Korean government’s plan of boosting the number of medical students, leading to delays in surgeries and medical treatment, officials said on Tuesday. Talking to reporters, Second Vice Health Minister Park Min-said that the ministry has ordered 831 trainee doctors to return to work, Yonhap news agency reported.

Tensions brewed between doctors and the government over the latter’s plan to add 2,000 to the country’s medical school enrollment quota next year. Till Monday, 6,415 trainee doctors at 100 hospitals submitted their resignations, with about 1,600 of them walking off the job, Park said.

Park said the government will extend operating hours at 97 public hospitals and emergency rooms at 12 military hospitals will be opened to the public to cope with a potential disruption of medical services. The admission quota needs to enhanced to address a shortage of doctors, particularly in rural areas and essential medical fields, such as high-risk surgeries, pediatrics, obstetrics and emergency medicine.

As per the health authorities, the number of doctors in South Korea relative to the size of the population is among the lowest in the developed world. However, the doctors claimed that the government has not had full consultations on the matter and that the move will compromise the quality of medical education and services.

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