Patient care hit as thousands of doctors resign in South Korea

Patient care hit as thousands of doctors resign in South Korea

ISTANBUL, FEB 20 (AA/APP/DNA): Hitting patient care, thousands of trainee medics Tuesday resigned from duty in South Korea to protest the government’s move to increase the number of medical student seats.

However, President Yoon Suk Yeol called on the protesting doctors to “not hold people’s lives and health hostage.”

Some 6,415 trainee doctors at 100 hospitals have submitted their resignations while around 1,600 of them suspended their work, the Seoul-based Yonhap News reported.

South Korea has some 13,000 trainee doctors in South Korea while the government ordered 831 trainee doctors to return to work.

“Trainee doctors who are key players in the medical field and medical school students who are key players in future medicine should not take collective action by taking the people’s lives and health hostage,” said the president.

Yoon said some “surgeries for cancer patients have already been postponed” due to the strike.

The country’s Vice Health Minister Park Min-soo Park said the resignations by doctors “led to a disruption in medical services, such as the cancellation of surgeries.”

Protesting doctors claim that the government “lacks transparency” and that the move to increase the number of medical students will “compromise” the quality of medical education and services.

The government, however, said the increase of 2,000 seats is “necessary” to address a shortage of doctors, especially in rural areas and crucial specialties.

Currently, South Korea’s annual enrollment for medical seats is 3,058 seats.

Last Friday, the country’s Health Ministry banned large-scale resignations and issued action against doctors’ collective resignations.

Also, to manage the patient rush due to the fallout from resignations, government-run hospitals in Seoul decided to extend normal operating hours.

South Korea’s healthcare system heavily relies on trainee doctors, especially in emergency and acute care.

To meet the needs of patients, the government extended normal working hours at the hospitals in Seoul.