Doctors at major hospitals decide to stage indefinite walkouts

June 12, 2024

Doctors at major hospitals in Seoul and its neighboring areas have decided to stage indefinite walkouts, while medical professors resolved Wednesday to join community doctors in a one-day strike next week, demanding the suspension of a medical school quota hike.

In a meeting late Wednesday, professors from the country’s 40 medical schools decided to join the one-day general strike set for next Tuesday, organized by the biggest association of community doctors.

Kim Chang-soo, head of the Medical Professors Association of Korea, told Yonhap News Agency that the association has decided to join the strike, though he said it remains unclear how many professors will actually participate in the walkout.

Medical professors at four major hospitals affiliated with Seoul National University also have warned of an indefinite walkout starting Monday.

Following in their footsteps, medical professors at three major hospitals of Yonsei University — Severance Hospital, Gangnam Severance Hospital and Yongin Severance Hospital — also voted Wednesday to stage an indefinite walkout starting June 27.

Also on Wednesday, medical professors at eight major hospitals affiliated with the Catholic University of Korea voted to join the planned strike by community doctors, demanding the government revisit the medical school admissions issue from scratch.

Under the decision, the professors, who are senior doctors at Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital in Seoul and seven other affiliated hospitals across the country, will join the planned strike.

However, emergency rooms and treatment for critically ill patients at the eight hospitals won’t be affected.

Later in the day, medical professors at Asan Medical Center also decided to join the strike.

Medical professors called on the government to fully cancel administrative orders imposed on junior doctors who have left worksites since late February, claiming the government’s recent decision to suspend the steps still indicates that they have violated the law.

“We demand the government cancel all administrative orders issued to the trainee doctors,” a committee of medical professors at the Catholic University of Korea said, noting the government should discuss the medical school quota hike from scratch.

Despite fierce protest by trainee doctors, the government finalized an admissions quota hike of some 1,500 students for medical schools late last month, marking the first such increase in 27 years.

The government has ordered community doctors to continue providing medical treatment and report to authorities if they close their businesses on the day of the strike. It will issue another order for community doctors to return if more than 30 percent of them join the planned strike.