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Top court dismisses doctors' call to halt gov't's med school quota hike move

June 19, 2024 - 20:53 By Yonhap
Officials of the Fair Trade Commission enter the building of the Korean Medical Association in Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

The Supreme Court on Wednesday turned down an injunction filed by doctors seeking to stop the government from raising the number of medical school admissions, a ruling expected to affect several similar pending court proceedings.

The top court upheld and finalized the appellate court's decision to reject the injunction filed by trainee doctors and medical professors calling for the suspension of the government plan to increase the medical school quota by 2,000 starting next year.

The court ruled that there were "no grounds" to stop the government from executing the measure to increase the quota and allow allotments by each university.

"Given the prospect of a shortage of doctors in the future, it would be concerning if the implementation of the medical school admission quota was suspended, as it could significantly hinder expanding capacities at medical schools that play a critical role in public health," the court said.

The court also said a potential suspension could cause big confusion among high school students aiming for medical school and the education field.

Wednesday's ruling by the top court is expected to serve as a precedent for a string of similar injunctions pending in lower courts.

In March, the government allocated 2,000 additional medical school admission seats to universities, many of them to schools outside the greater Seoul area, despite trainee doctors' collective action to walk off their duties at major hospitals in protest.

About 20 legal actions have been taken by the doctors' community and medical students to halt the quota hike, but no court rulings have been made in their favor so far.

The majority of intern and resident doctors have walked off their duties at major hospitals since late February in collective action protesting the hike, causing disruptions in health care services nationwide. (Yonhap)