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Some trainee doctors return to work, yet conflict remains over protecting medical students

All News 08:49 September 08, 2020

SEOUL, Sept. 8 (Yonhap) -- Hundreds of trainee doctors resumed their work Tuesday, ending their 18-day strike over a controversial medical reform plan, but some trainees still continued their collective action, urging measures to protect medical students.

Interns and residents at major general hospitals in Seoul, such as Seoul Asan Medical Center and Seoul Samsung Medical Center, returned to hospitals as of 7 a.m., and other young doctors are also set to return later in the day.

However, some trainee doctors at general hospitals in other parts of the country have continued their collective action, calling for further measures to protect medical students who will not take a state medical licensing exam set to be held later in the day.

Seoul National University Hospital is crowded with patients on Sept. 7, 2020. (Yonhap)

A day earlier, an emergency committee under the Korean Intern and Resident Association (KIRA) representing the young doctors said they will return to work.

However, they further warned they can take tougher collective action if the government does not come up with further measures within two weeks to support medical students who did not apply for the test.

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.

On Friday, the country's largest doctors' association, the Korean Medical Association (KMA), agreed with the ruling party to end their nationwide strike after the government backed down and promised to put the medical reform plans on hold in a joint effort for the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Friday's deal raised hopes 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.

The government earlier said it will hold the exam as scheduled after most medical students said they will not take it in protest over the agreement. A total of 446 out of 3,172 exam applicants, or 14 percent, will take the exam, according to the ministry.

khj@yna.co.kr
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