UPDATE : Monday, September 7, 2020
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Doctors to go ahead with 2nd nationwide strike
  • By Choi Gwang-seok
  • Published 2020.08.20 14:58
  • Updated 2020.08.20 14:58
  • comments 0

Talks between the medical community and the government failed to produce an agreement on whether to increase admission quotas at medical schools.

Doctors said they would proceed with their initial walkout plans – a third strike by junior doctors on Friday and a second nationwide walkout by physicians on Wednesday next week.

Health and Welfare Minister Park Neung-hoo and Korean Medical Association President Choi Dae-zip met at the Koreana Hotel in Gwanghwamun, central Seoul, Wednesday.

Health and Welfare Minister Park Neung-hoo (center in the left row) and Korean Medical Association President Choi Dae-zip (right) meet in Seoul, Wednesday, to discuss increasing admissions quotas medical schools.

The two had closed-door talks for about two hours from 3:30 p.m. The two sides had a 30-minute break to have an internal discussion but failed to reach an agreement.

Son Young-rae, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health and Welfare, said the ministry proposed to the KMA to talk “with all possibilities open,” over increasing medical school admission quotas and establishing a state-run medical school.

However, the KMA demanded the government withdraw three plans first – the increasing of medical school admissions, establishing a public medical school, and giving insurance benefit to some traditional herbal medicines, he noted.

The KMA proposed scrapping the three plans and forming a consultation body for public health advancement to discuss further. Still, the government refused to accept it, and the talks ended, he added.

The doctors’ group expressed regret that the meeting only confirmed the differences between the two sides.

Kim Dae-ha, a spokesperson for the KMA, said the group demanded the government retract “four evil” healthcare policies because the government’s announcement did not reflect the KMA’s stance, and proposed to work together to fight Covid-19.

The KMA also requested to form a consultative body with the government to discuss the future of the public health, including addressing the gap of medical services between Seoul and provincial areas, once the Covid-19 situation stabilizes.

However, the health and welfare ministry reiterated that the government could not withdraw the plans, although “all possibilities were open,” Kim said.

The KMA said it felt sorry to cause trouble for those who need medical services during doctors’ walkouts and that it would still provide essential services such as emergency and intensive care.

“People worried about the previous two strikes, but we didn’t cause a healthcare crisis or an accident,” Kim said. “We feel sorry to cause inconvenience for patients. In the future collective actions, we will maintain essential medical care and minimize patient inconvenience.”


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