Gov’t asks hospitals to mitigate impact of medical professors’ absence

A medical worker walks down a hallway at a general hospital in Seoul, May 5. Yonhap

The health ministry has asked hospitals to devise measures to minimize damage to patients from medical professors taking a collective action in support of a walkout by junior doctors protesting the increase in medical school quotas, officials said Monday.The Korean Hospital Association said the government has asked hospital chiefs to take appropriate measures for patients undergoing treatment when medical professors, who are senior doctors, resign or take a leave of absence.Medical professors at the country’s key hospitals submitted their resignations en masse in late March, although the health ministry insisted that only a few of them have been processed so far.Starting last week, some professors also began taking a day off, suspending surgeries and outpatient treatments in response to fatigue caused by the prolonged walkout of junior doctors.

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.In the wake of prolonged disruptions to medical services, some hospitals have begun expressing financial difficulties, with Kyung Hee University Medical Center in Seoul issuing a statement to faculty indicating the possibility of suspending salary payments.”The hospital is facing a critical crisis and may even need to suspend salary payments and consider voluntary retirements in June,” Oh Joo-hyeong, president of Kyung Hee University Medical Center, said in a message sent to the workers.Seoul National University Hospital and Severance Hospital are also accepting applications for unpaid leave. Meanwhile, Seoul Asan Hospital has started accepting voluntary retirement applications, becoming the first of the “Big Five” 슬롯게이밍 hospitals to do so

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