Docs facing rap for walkout


Unhappy lot: Doctors staging a rally against the government’s medical policy near the presidential office in Seoul. — AP

THE country has filed a criminal complaint against five doctors it suspects of encouraging a mass walkout of trainee doctors, taking the first legal step that could lead to the stripping of medical licenses for those in the labor action.

The Health and Welfare Ministry said it filed the complaint with police on Tuesday against five members of the Korean Medical Association lobby group for allegedly violating the medical law and an order to return to work.

This stepped up pressure ahead of a deadline today to return to work for thousands of trainee doctors who have walked off the job – without facing reprisals for their actions.

KMA spokesman Joo Sooho called the move “an exercise of unfair government power.”

Joo said by telephone that members would be willing to explain their positions to police, if they are summoned by authorities.

President Yoon Suk-yeol has told doctors to end their walkout in protest of a government plan to increase seats at medical schools, saying the labour action is threatening lives and his government won’t bow to pressure.

His government has been preparing to arrest, prosecute and possibly suspend the licences of doctors who don’t heed to the ultimatum to return to work for organising a labour action it contends runs counter to the law.

About 9,000 of the country’s some 13,000 trainee doctors walked off the job in the labour action that started last week.

They are protesting a government plan to increase the number of seats at medical schools by 2,000 from the current 3,058 to alleviate a doctor shortage that ranks as one of the most acute in the world.

The walkout has led to about a 50% reduction in surgeries and caused emergency rooms to turn away people due to staffing shortages, the government said.

Yoon’s administration contends the plan is needed to have more doctors as the country faces a demographic crisis with one of the world’s fastest-ageing populations.

The doctors argue the plan does not address fundamental problems such as poor working conditions, a concentration of physicians in urban areas and not enough protection from malpractice suits.

Polling indicates wide support among the public for the government plan.

Critics of the walkout contend the labour action may be more about protecting the earning power of doctors, which ranks among the top among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries. — Bloomberg

Follow us on our official WhatsApp channel for breaking news alerts and key updates!
   

Next In Aseanplus News

Asean news headlines as at 9pm on Wednesday (April 17)
Philippine ocean systems deteriorating, says study
Cyclist who clung to car bonnet in East Coast road rage case likely affected by brain tumour: Lawyer
Japan records best-ever monthly visitor numbers in March
Vietnamese carmaker VinFast reports Q1 net loss despite revenue rise
PBRS veteran Joseph Kurup passes away at 80
HK director Wong Jing draws mixed reactions after questioning Tony Leung's best actor win
Water-splashing festivals boost tourism in China, South-East Asia
SIA diverts Dubai-bound flight after heavy floods hit airport
Jail for infant care teacher who slapped baby for refusing to drink milk

Others Also Read