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Interior minister renews calls for trainee doctors to return to work

Feb. 29, 2024 - 10:45 By Yonhap
Interior Minister Lee Sang-min attends a government meeting in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)

Interior Minister Lee Sang-min renewed calls for trainee doctors to return to work Thursday as the government-set deadline is set to expire later in the day for their return from a walkout protesting the government's medical school quota hike plan.

The government has given thousands of interns and resident doctors across the nation until the end of Thursday to return to their hospitals or face punitive action, such as the suspension of their medical licenses.

Since Tuesday last week, the trainee doctors have stayed away from their duties at general hospitals nationwide in protest of the plan to raise the medical school admission quota by 2,000 seats next year, crippling hospital operations.

"The government's medical reform, including the expansion of the medical school quota, represents the final opportunity to save people's lives and revitalize rural areas," the interior minister stressed.

"I urge trainee doctors who have left their worksites to make a wise decision so as not to worry the public anymore," he said, emphasizing that many patients in serious conditions are struggling to find available hospitals.

In response to doctors' concerns that the sudden surge in the medical school population could erode education quality, the minister also unveiled plans to increase the number of professors at major state-run medical schools by up to 1,000 by 2027.

"Through the medical reform, the government will ensure that everyone receives proper treatment anywhere and at the proper time," Lee noted. (Yonhap)