Military Hospitals in South Korea Open to Civilians Amid Doctors’ StrikeTrainee Doctors in South Korea to Strike Over Medical School Quota Increase

SEOUL - In response to a nationwide strike by trainee doctors protesting a government plan to increase medical student admissions, South Korea's military hospitals have opened their emergency rooms to the public. The Defense Ministry announced this measure as approximately 1,600 trainee doctors have walked off their jobs, part of a larger group of 6,415 who submitted resignations to oppose the addition of 2,000 seats to the medical school quota next year.

According to Yonhap News Agency, 12 military hospitals across the country have eased entry protocols to facilitate civilian access to emergency services, a move prompted by the potential for significant disruptions to public health services. Previously, these facilities were not readily accessible to civilians due to stringent security measures. The decision comes at a critical time, illustrated by the experience of a 50-year-old named Im, who sought care for her father's hip joint fracture at the Armed Forces Capital Hospital. Im's relief at finding available treatment underscores the growing demand for alternatives amidst the strike.

As of Tuesday afternoon, a modest increase in civilian patients at military hospitals has been reported, indicating the public's growing awareness of this temporary arrangement. The government has also extended operating hours at 97 public hospitals to mitigate the impact of the strike and is considering further measures, including offering outpatient care at military hospitals and deploying medical officers to civilian facilities. The increase in the medical school admission quota, according to the government, is aimed at addressing a doctor shortage in rural areas and specific medical fields. However, the protesting doctors argue that the plan was devised without sufficient consultation and could dilute the quality of medical education and services.

SEOUL - Trainee doctors across South Korea are set to halt work in a mass protest against the government's decision to increase the medical school enrollment quota. This move comes after a period of escalating tensions between healthcare professionals and the government over plans to expand the number of medical students significantly.

According to Yonhap News Agency, trainee doctors at five major hospitals in Seoul submitted their letters of resignation on Monday, planning to walk off the job on Tuesday. The protest is a response to the government's proposal to raise the medical school quota by 2,000 seats next year, a significant jump from the current 3,058 slots. This decision has already led to delays in surgeries and treatments at some hospitals, though no major disruptions have been reported yet. Over 1,000 trainee doctors are expected to resign in unison, prompting the government to mandate continued medical services. Second Vice Health Minister Park Min-soo expressed deep disappointment over the trainee doctors' actions and urged them to reconsider. The increase in medical school admissions is seen by the government as a necessary step to address doctor shortages, especially in rural areas and specific medical fields. However, doctors argue that this move could degrade the quality of medical education and services, citing a lack of comprehensive consultation on the matter.

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