Government Announces Support for Small Hospitals Amid Medical Sector Strike

SEOUL - Prime Minister Han Duck-soo announced measures on Tuesday aimed at bolstering small, specialized hospitals in South Korea to reduce dependency on the five major Seoul-based hospitals.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the government plans to overhaul the medical insurance fee system to reflect the medical capabilities of hospitals rather than their size. This initiative responds to the ongoing strike by medical interns and residents protesting against the increase in medical school enrollment quotas.

The five major hospitals, including Asan Medical Center and Samsung Medical Center, are crucial for treating critically ill patients. However, the protracted strike by junior doctors, who are essential for surgeries and emergency services, has led to the cancellation of critical procedures and strained the medical system. Over 90 percent of the country's 13,000 junior doctors have participated in the strike, prompting the government to seek solutions to prevent future medical crises. The promotion of midsized and specialty hospitals is seen as a step towards sustaining healthcare services during such disruptions. The Prime Minister emphasized the existence of specialty hospitals capable of treating severe cases at the level of general hospitals and the government's commitment to hastening medical system reforms.

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