The medical residents’ strike has been postponed. The Korean Medical Residents’ Association (Daejeon Association), which was protesting the government’s expansion of the medical school quota by 2,000, held an extraordinary general meeting of delegates from the night before yesterday until 1 a.m. yesterday to discuss collective action, but the executive branch, except for Chairman Park, resigned without announcing whether to take action. It was announced that it would later switch to a non-captain system. It is expected that there will be no strike by medical residents anytime soon. It is fortunate that the conflict between the government and the medical community, which ran parallel paths, has been avoided for now.
The reason Daejeonhyup postponed the strike may be because it is not easy to find a justification for going ahead with it. It is known that at the general meeting, there was considerable skepticism that there was nothing to be gained from collective action due to the government’s hard-line stance and public opinion in favor of increasing the number of medical schools among the public. It is said that an opinion was also suggested to take group action after finding a way to respond to the government’s hard-line policies, such as an order banning the acceptance of resignation letters. This is an unexpected result of the discussion, considering that 88.2% of residents initially expressed willingness to participate in group action. However, the Korean Medical Association is planning a rally on the 15th, and a national medical representative meeting is scheduled in Seoul on the 17th. It is difficult to say that the doctors’ strike has completely subsided below the surface.
Doctors’ opposition to increasing the number of medical schools has no justification or logic. Our current reality is that the number of doctors is severely short compared to developed countries, and essential and local medical care is severely disrupted, especially in emergency rooms and pediatric departments. The government, the Korea Development Institute (KDI), and the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs recently announced that there is a shortage of about 5,000 doctors and that the number will increase to 15,000 by 2035. Increasing the number of medical school students by 2,000 per year for a total of 10,000 students for five years starting next year may seem unconventional, but considering that it takes at least 10 years to train doctors, a large initial increase is inevitable. This is why 89% of the public supported increasing the number of doctors. Considering this reality, the government must speed up the expansion of medical schools.
Second Vice Minister of Health and Welfare Park Min-soo said yesterday, “We will complete the distribution of the increased number of medical schools to each school by March and confirm it before the general election.” Medical reform, such as increasing the number of doctors, is not something that can be solved just because the government pushes it unilaterally. As there is another axis, the speed will be doubled when the two sides come together to expand the scope of mutual understanding. Doctors must keep in mind that a strike that takes patients hostage cannot be justified under any justification. We hope that the postponement of the medical residents’ strike will serve as an opportunity to resolve the conflict over the increase in medical schools through dialogue.
[ⓒ 세계일보 & Segye.com, 무단전재 및 재배포 금지]
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