The Korea Herald


Govt. to offer more funds for emergency care amid protracted walkouts by doctors

By Yonhap

Published : May 7, 2024 - 10:07

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This file photo taken on Monday shows a hospital in Seoul. (Yonhap) This file photo taken on Monday shows a hospital in Seoul. (Yonhap)

Health Minister Cho Kyoo-hong said Tuesday that the government will extend its financial support for emergency care services by another month, as massive walkouts by junior doctors have disrupted health services at major hospitals for nearly three months.

The government has injected 190 billion won ($140 million) per month from the national health insurance system since February to support operations at emergency rooms and increase compensation for emergency doctors.

Cho told a response meeting that the government plans to extend such financial support by one month from Saturday "to cope with a possibility of emergency medical conditions being extended."

The government will deploy more military doctors to fill a "vacuum" in medical services hit by the walkouts, Cho said.

Some medical professors who are senior doctors at major hospitals have warned that they would take a one-week leave of absence this month if the government formally confirms details of admissions to boost the number of medical students, a thorny issue that sparked the walkouts.

Cho called for medical professors to stop the planned collective action, while renewing a pledge to accomplish the medical reform.

About 12,000 trainee doctors have left their worksites since Feb. 20 in protest of the plan to boost the number of medical students by 2,000, causing delays in medical treatments, with some emergency rooms partially limiting their treatment of critically ill patients.

The medical community and health authorities, meanwhile, have been also at odds as the Seoul High Court ordered the government to submit minutes and other documents to verify that the decision to increase the number of medical school students by 2,000 was based on scientific grounds by Friday.

In a statement, the Medical Professors Association of Korea criticized the government for inadequately maintaining records of meeting minutes concerning medical reform, raising suspicions that the minutes may not exist.

The government earlier acknowledged that the minutes from the meeting on medical issues with the Korean Medical Association were not recorded, as per an agreement. Instead, it vowed to submit minutes from separate committee meetings on health policy that included representatives from civic groups. (Yonhap)