Two major hospitals in Seoul set to suspend outpatient clinics, surgeries

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Two major hospitals in Seoul set to suspend outpatient clinics, surgeries

Seoul: Two major general hospitals in Seoul are set to suspend outpatient clinics and surgeries on Tuesday, as their senior doctors began taking a weekly day off amid a protracted walkout by junior doctors in protest of the government’s medical reform.

Emergency rooms and inpatient care will remain in place at the two hospitals — Seoul National University Hospital and Severance Hospital — while the health ministry expected no major disruptions despite the one-day labour action by the medical professors, Yonhap news agency reported.

In Seoul’s neighbouring areas, a significant number of senior doctors at Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Yongin Severance Hospital and Korea University Ansan Hospital were set to join the move.

Professors at Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital are preparing to suspend noncritical surgical services every Friday as well, with those at Asan Medical Center also planning a day off on the same day.

Second Vice Health Minister Park Min-soo said Monday that the government will deploy more military doctors to cope with the weekly breaks by medical professors.

“There will be no major disruptions,” Park told reporters.

About 12,000 trainee doctors have left their worksites since February 20 in protest of the plan to boost the number of medical students by 2,000, causing delays in medical treatments, with some emergency rooms partially limiting their treatment of critically ill patients.

The government’s policy, meanwhile, was perceived as gaining traction after President Yoon Suk Yeol and Lee Jae-myung, the head of the main opposition Democratic Party, agreed on the need for medical reform the previous day.

Lee promised the party’s active cooperation on the government’s medical reform plans, including its decision to increase admissions to medical schools, the report said.

Prospects for an agreement between the government and the medical community shortly, however, are also seen as slim as Lim Hyun-taek, the hawkish president-elect of the Korean Medical Association, begins his term Wednesday.

Lim has claimed that the medical community will not engage in any dialogue until the government completely scraps the medical reform plan.

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