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SNU medical professors apologize for planned walkout

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Medical doctors walk inside Seoul National University Hospital in Seoul, June 14. Yonhap

Medical doctors walk inside Seoul National University Hospital in Seoul, June 14. Yonhap

Medical professors of Seoul National University (SNU) offered an apology to patients for planning an indefinite strike next week in protest of the government's medical reform, vowing to continue treatments for critically ill patients without a hitch.

The apology issued by the emergency response committee of the SNU medical professors came as the professors, who serve as senior doctors at SNU hospitals, have vowed to indefinitely suspend their hospital operations starting June 17.

Their move came as no breakthrough has been made in resolving the conflict between the government and trainee doctors who have left their worksites since February against the government's medical school enrollment quota increase.

"We'd like to say we are really sorry to patients with critical cases and rare diseases. We've failed to fully fathom that our plan against the government could mean despair to patients," the committee said during a press conference in Seoul in the day.

The planned shutdown would mean the suspension of medical services and operations for outpatients and those who suffer mild cases, the committee said, stressing that the envisioned strike will not affect care for serious patients.

The SNU professors have demanded that the government admit to its responsibility for causing the current medical crisis and take practical measures.

They also called for efforts to improve circumstances for training junior doctors and form a consultative body for dialogue between the government and doctors.

In addition to the planned strike by SNU professors, the Korea Medical Association, a major lobby group for doctors, decided to go on a one-day strike June 18, which could involve community doctors and medical professors.

Despite fierce opposition, the government finalized the increase of the medical school admissions quota by around 1,500 seats late last month in an effort to address the shortage of doctors. It was the first such increase in 27 years. (Yonhap)


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