No Breakthrough in Gov't Talks with Doctors

  • By Roh Suk-jo, Heo Sang-woo

    August 25, 2020 11:24

    Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun met with representatives from the Korean Medical Association on Monday to avert another doctors' strike but failed to persuade them.

    Emerging from the meeting after some 70 minutes, the KMA representatives said there was "no change" in their plan to go on general strike later this week.

    After an urgent meeting with representatives from the Korean Intern Resident Association the previous day, Chung said doctors "agreed to participate in continuing to treat coronavirus patients," but they went no further than that.

    Doctors rally against the government's plan to increase medical school quotas at a hospital in Seoul on Sunday. /Yonhap

    Doctors are up in arms over the government's plan to increase medical school quotas over the next decade to deal with a perceived shortage of specialists, but physicians say the real problem is the concentration of practitioners in a few lucrative fields like plastic surgery and dermatology.

    The Office of the Prime Minister still held out hope that another strike could be averted, saying, "The government and the KMA agreed to immediately start working-level talks to put medical services back on track as soon as possible."

    The KMA also said that it will continue to talk with the Ministry of Health and Welfare to resolve the problem but demands that the government scrap its plan and start talks from square one.

    But the ministry says it has sufficiently discussed the matter with healthcare policy and other medical experts to come up with the plan and has no mind to start all over.

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