Professors in S.Korea demand govt scrap increased medical school admission seats

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Seoul, March 25 (IANS) A group of medical professors in South Korea on Monday demanded the government scrap a reform plan that increased medical school admission seats, saying it would sit down for talks with the government only if the plan is abolished.

The demand by the Medical Professors Association of Korea is expected to complicate an attempt by the government to hold talks with the medical community over a prolonged walkout by junior doctors, who left their worksites in protest of the plan, Yonhap news agency reported.

“Unless the government scraps the plan to increase the number of medical school freshmen and withdraws the allocation of seats, the ongoing crisis cannot be settled,” the association said.

“If the government is willing to withdraw (the plan), we are ready to discuss all the pending issues in front of the people,” it said.

Prospects of talks between the government and the medical community over the walkout by junior doctors were raised on Sunday as President Yoon Suk Yeol called for a “flexible” measure over the government’s move to suspend licenses of defiant trainee doctors.

More than 90 per cent of the country’s 13,000 trainee doctors have been on strike in the form of mass resignations since February 20 to protest the government’s decision to increase the medical school enrolment quota by 2,000 seats.

The health ministry had warned it would begin suspending licenses of trainee doctors who defied the government’s order to return to work from this week.

Still, it is unclear whether potential talks with the medical community could produce tangible results as the government allocated the additional 2,000 admission seats to universities last week, in an indication that the government would not back down from the plan.

Kim Chang-soo, head of the association, told reporters the allocation of an additional 2,000 admission seats is “unacceptable” because it would undermine the quality of education at medical schools.

“The issue of the medical school admissions quota is not worth discussing,” Kim told reporters.

In support of the junior doctors’ walkout, medical professors started tendering their resignations on Monday, although they pledged to remain at work, the report said.

The association said medical professors will also stick to their plan to reduce their weekly work hours to 52 hours by adjusting surgeries and other medical treatments.



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