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Strike vote at Seoul National University Hospital raises concerns of general strike

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Strike vote at Seoul National University Hospital raises concerns of general strike

Seoul, June 6 (IANS) Doctors at Seoul National University Hospital were holding a vote on Thursday on whether to go on a strike in protest of the government’s medical reform plan, raising concerns other doctors’ associations could join the collective action.

The emergency committee of the Seoul National University College of Medicine (SNU Medicine) and the Seoul National University Hospital (SNUH) plans to release the result of the vote later on Thursday.

The vote began on Tuesday and is scheduled to end at Thursday noon, Yonhap news agency reported.

Depending on the voting results, doctors at other hospitals could follow suit to protest the government’s plan to boost the number of medical students by about 1,509 for next year, in addition to the current 3,058 enrollment quota, the first increase in 27 years.

The Korea Medical Association (KMA), the country’s biggest lobby group for doctors, is also holding a vote on whether to launch a strike. The association plans to announce its future course of action on Thursday based on the poll.

The government has said the medical reforms are essential to brace for the country’s fast-aging population and a shortage of physicians in rural areas and essential but low-paying specialties, like pediatrics and emergency departments.

In response, the KMA argues the government plan will not fix fundamental problems in the medical system, including doctor shortages in fields seen as lower paying and a concentration of doctors in urban areas.

Critics say the striking doctors oppose the government plan to safeguard their income.

South Korea’s doctor-to-population ratio is one of the lowest among developed countries. The country has a population of about 51 million and 140,000 doctors.


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