Doctors at SNU hospitals in South Korea set to stage walkout from June 17

Doctors at SNU hospitals in South Korea set to stage walkout from June 17
Photo credit: Yonhap

Doctors at four major hospitals affiliated with Seoul National University (SNU) are set to stage a walkout from June 17, according to hospital officials on Friday, in a move that would complicate efforts by the government to resolve a protracted walkout by trainee doctors, Yonhap reports.

Medical professors at the four SNU hospitals voted to launch the walkout, calling for the government to fully withdraw administrative steps to punish trainee doctors who have left their worksites since late February in protest of the government's medical reform.

Although the professors, who are senior doctors at the hospitals, voted to stage the walkout, emergency rooms and treatment for critically ill patients will be maintained, hospital officials said.

The four hospitals are SNU Hospital, SNU Bundang Hospital, Seoul Metropolitan Government SNU Boramae Medical Center and SNU Hospital Healthcare System Gangnam Center.

SNU Hospital President Kim Young-tae, however, said he would not allow the collective action, calling on the professors to reconsider their decision.

"An indefinite break could not only cause inconveniences to patients who trust and come to our hospital but also lead to significant safety problems," Kim said in a statement. "(I) will not allow a collective break."

Late last month, the government finalized the admission quota hike of some 1,500 for medical schools, marking the first such increase in 27 years.

In an apparent effort to persuade trainee doctors to return to hospitals, the government has allowed them to seek jobs at other medical clinics or go back to their training hospitals by withdrawing a return-to-work order and suspending administrative steps to punish them.

Meanwhile, the Korea Medical Association, the country's biggest lobby group for community doctors, has also held a vote on whether to launch a strike.

According to sources, 58,874 out of 129,200 eligible voters, or 45.57 percent, participated in the vote that could lead to a strike of community doctors.

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