close
close

South Korea withdraws plan to suspend licenses of striking doctors

South Korea withdraws plan to suspend licenses of striking doctors

South Korea said on Monday it would withdraw its earlier plan to revoke the licenses of striking doctors.

ADVERTISING

The South Korean government has announced that it will withdraw an earlier plan to suspend the licenses of striking doctors.

Thousands of junior doctors went on strike in February to protest government plans to increase the number of new students.

It was not initially known how many of them would return to work following the recent announcement.

Health Minister Cho Kyoo-Hong said the government had decided not to revoke the strikers’ licenses regardless of whether they return to their hospitals. He said the decision was intended to address the shortage of doctors to treat emergency patients.

The government had withdrawn a plan to revoke the licenses of doctors who returned to their hospitals, but this did not happen for other doctors who continued not to work.

Officials have announced plans to increase the number of doctors by up to 10,000 by 2035 to address the country’s rapidly ageing population and shortages of doctors in rural areas and in low-paying but essential specialties such as pediatrics and emergency departments.

Doctors say schools are not prepared for a sudden increase in student numbers and that this would ultimately endanger the country’s health care system.

However, critics say that doctors – one of the highest-paid professions in South Korea – are particularly concerned that their income would decrease due to the additional number of doctors.

Although the striking doctors make up only a fraction of the country’s total medical workforce, in some hospitals the number is 30 to 40 percent, which has led to the cancellation of operations and other treatment appointments.