The doctors’ strike in South Korea is growing as medical professors join the protests

Medical professors in South Korea have said they will reduce the hours they spend in practice, while some say they plan to resign, following an expansion of the country’s doctors’ strike.

The measure will begin on Monday to support trainee doctors who have been on strike for more than a month over a government plan to boost admissions to medical schools.

Medical Professors Association of Korea President Kim Chang-soo said professors will start scaling back outpatient treatment to focus on emergency and critically ill patients, while others will resign.

“It is clear that the increasing number of medical schools will not only ruin medical education but also collapse our country’s healthcare system,” he said.

Trainee doctors have been on strike since February 20 over a plan to increase the number of students admitted to medical school annually from 2025, to address shortages in rural areas and increased demand for services due to the South’s rapidly aging population -to tackle Korea.

But the striking doctors, who make up 93% of the trainee workforce, claim the recruitment of 2,000 extra students a year from 2025 will jeopardize the quality of services. Critics say authorities should first focus on improving pay and working conditions for doctors in training.

The industrial action has forced several hospitals to return patients and postpone procedures.

President Yoon Suk Yeol, who has made healthcare reforms one of his signature policy initiatives, has vowed not to back down from implementing the withdrawal plan.

The South Korean government has also threatened to suspend the licenses of doctors who quit their jobs, but on Sunday Yoon appeared to seek a more conciliatory approach, urging Prime Minister Han Duck-soo to take “flexible measures” search when dealing with the suspension. .

Yoon’s office said he had also instructed the prime minister to form a “constructive consultative body” to speak to all medical professionals.

According to a March 15 Gallup poll, 38% said the government was doing a good job in handling doctors’ reaction to the plan and the medical void during the doctors’ strike, while 49% said it was “not a good job.” .