Medical professors blackmail people with mass resignations: S. Korea

Seoul: Medical professors are blackmailing people with mass resignations, said South Korea’s Vice Health Minister Park Min-soo on Sunday.

Amid the ongoing rift between trainee doctors and the government over enrollment at medical schools, professors from 16 medical schools, last week, have decided to submit resignations en masse March 25, in protest. Their decision comes after more than 90 per cent of the country’s 13,000 trainee doctors walked off for nearly four weeks in the form of mass resignations.

Park reaffirmed that the government’s decision to increase medical school quota by 2,000 from the current 3,058 is not subject to negotiation, rejecting a demand from medical professors that the government first back off from the decision, Yonhap news agency reported.

“Even professors have declared that they would resign collectively unless their demand is met,” Park said on YTN TV. “This is huge blackmail against people. We have to break the cycle of collective action in the medical sector.”

The government has been pushing to sharply raise the number of medical students to brace for the country’s fast-ageing population, and address a shortage of physicians in rural areas and essential domains.

However, doctors claim that the quota hike would lead to a surplus of physicians and compromise the quality of medical education and services.

Additionally, they said that it would result in higher medical costs for patients. They have called for measures to first address the underpaid specialists and improve legal protection against excessive medical malpractice lawsuits, the report said.

Park also rejected calls for raising health insurance payments to doctors, especially those in essential sectors short of physicians, saying that such hikes without increasing the medical school quota would lead to a four to five-fold hike in health insurance premiums, the report said.

Park noted that the government cannot accept doctors turning away from their patients even if they have concerns about the government’s policy.

“Professors say they will not stand still if their pupils face disadvantage, and this is a remark that challenged the rule of law.”

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