South Korean doctors said Thursday they will put their plan to stage nationwide strikes on hold after voting to accept an agreement with the government over contentious medical policies.
The Korean Medical Association (KMA) said that 25,628, or 62.12 percent, of the 41,226 members who took part in the voting were in agreement with the government's plan to introduce a new system of telemedicine and allow hospitals to set up for-profit subsidiaries, among other policies.
The KMA said 15,598 members voted against the plan.
The KMA had intended to launch its second round of strikes for six days starting next Monday but had said it would suspend the plan if its members accepted the government's plan.
Doctors across the country staged a one-day strike earlier this month in protest to the government plans, concerned that the new policies will accelerate their management woes and undermine public health.
Thursday's decision came after the government and the KMA reached an agreement to test-run telemedicine for six months before enacting a bill on introducing the system, increase doctors'
representation in the government-led decision-making body on health insurance policies and improve work conditions of interns and resident physicians at hospitals around the country.
The association said, however, it would press ahead with the threatened strike at any time if the government fails to implement the terms of the agreement.
"What was decided in this vote is suspension, not withdrawal, of the strike plan," Roh Hwan-gyu, chief of the KMA, told reporters. "The association will fulfill its mission to protect the people's lives and health at any time if the government unilaterally pushes ahead with policies that hurt the people." (Yonhap)