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Trainee doctors not to resume work, some service disruption continues

All News 09:36 September 07, 2020

SEOUL, Sept. 7 (Yonhap) -- Trainee doctors did not return to work Monday despite a deal the country's largest doctors' association has signed with the government to end a nationwide strike over a controversial medical reform plan.

Representatives of trainee doctors and medical students had reportedly leaned toward returning to their duties, but some members of the Korean Intern and Resident Association (KIRA) raised objections.

"We will not return to work on Sept. 7 and will remain in the current status," KIRA said in a statement late Sunday. "Further discussion will be made after a meeting scheduled for 1 p.m."

A man walks past the building of the Korea Health Personnel Licensing Examination Institute in Seoul on Sept. 6, 2020. South Korea's health ministry extended the application deadline for the state medical licensing exam to Sunday after test takers withdrew their applications in protest of the recent medical reform plan. (Yonhap)

Thousands of trainee doctors working at general hospitals began the strike on Aug. 21 to protest the government's medical reform scheme that calls for increasing the quota for medical students, establishing a new public medical school and giving medical insurance coverage to oriental medicine treatment.

The Korean Medical Association (KMA), which represents some 130,000 doctors across the country, joined the collective action but agreed to return to work Friday after the government backed down and promised to put the medical reform plans on hold.

Friday's deal raised hope for the normalization of hospital operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but it angered the junior doctors, who said their views were not properly reflected in it.

KIRA and medical students have balked at the KMA's deal with the government, saying they will continue to reject the state medical licensing exam in protest over the agreement.

The government and hospitals have been urging doctors to halt the strike, as their collective action has disrupted medical services at hospitals and other medical centers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.


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