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South Korea adopts more conciliatory stance on decision to raise medical quotas

On April 3, the Korean Minister of Internal Affairs announced that the government is open to changing its medical school admission policy if a better proposal is presented. This statement was made during a government response meeting amidst ongoing conflicts with the medical community by Interior Minister Lee Sang-min. He emphasized that government policies are always open to change if better opinions with strong rationale are provided. Lee also stressed the government’s commitment to health reform and protecting the health and lives of the people.

The Minister urged interns to return to work and assured them that their opinions will be listened to and evaluated seriously as they continue to provide care to patients. Many major hospitals in South Korea have scaled back surgeries and services due to the majority of intern doctors resigning in protest since February of the previous year. While there are no clear indications of the government reversing its decision to increase medical school enrollment targets, it remains open to negotiating with doctors to find a united and reasonable solution.

The strike by intern doctors has had a significant impact on the healthcare system in Korea, with medical professors at university hospitals reducing their hours and some tertiary hospitals limiting services due to staffing shortages. More than 90% of the country’s intern doctors have been on strike since February 20, protesting the government’s plan to increase medical school admission quotas by 2,000. This initiative aims to address the aging population and increase the number of healthcare professionals in vital fields. However, striking doctors argue that this move will compromise the quality of education and medical services, leading to an oversupply of doctors. They suggest that officials should focus on increasing compensation and rewards for doctors to ensure their security in the industry.

The ongoing dispute between the government and the medical community highlights

By Samantha Jones

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