Home World NewsKorea Number of junior doctors resigning nears 10,000

Number of junior doctors resigning nears 10,000

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The number of junior workers resigning from 100 teaching hospitals was nearing the 10,000 mark on Thursday, despite a government threat of legal consequences for participating in collective action.

As of Wednesday at 10 p.m., 9,275 trainee doctors out of some 13,000 — 74.4 percent of the total — had submitted their resignations, up 459 from Tuesday’s figure, while 8,024 of them have left their workplaces, according to Second Vice Health Minister Park Min-soo on Thursday. The hospitals have not accepted their resignation letters yet, he added.

The government has so far ordered return-to-work orders to 6,038 trainee doctors, demanding they return to their workplaces and stay by the patients, he said.

The government made the demand based on Article 59 of the Medical Service Act, in which the health minister may order medical personnel to resume services if there is a “reasonable ground to believe that suspension of medical service without any justifiable ground is likely to cause great difficulties in providing medical treatment to patients.”

Also, a total of 57 complaints have been newly filed to the Health Ministry’s reporting and support center as of Wednesday at 6 p.m., bringing the total to 149. Of them, 44 were about delayed surgeries, six cases were about refusal of treatment, five were about canceled appointments and the remaining two cases were about delayed hospitalization.

As patients continue to be in limbo with canceled and delayed treatment, an association of severe diseases issued a statement Thursday urging trainee doctors to head back to their hospitals, saying that it has disrupted critically ill patients and their care.

“(We) are afraid that the medical gap will persist as doctors’ group and the government remain adamant and patients would eventually become victims of this medical crisis,” the statement read.

Meanwhile, Lee Dong-wook, who heads the Gyeonggi Provincial Medical Association, came under fire for his remarks that people like “smart and intelligent physicians.”

Lee commented during a prerecorded debate about raising the medical school enrollment quota that aired on MBC late Tuesday while trying to underscore that medical school is only for the smartest and gifted.

“If you select students with low grades from local medical schools and force them to work, their motivation will decrease. Would anyone want to receive medical treatment from such doctors?” he said.

“We have no choice but to select (medical school) candidates with very low grades for the admissions for students in rural areas. Those who rank between No. 20-30 in their classes would be able to go (to medical school), but the public would not want them.”

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