Deadline set by South Korea for striking doctors to return to work | Health News

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The South Korean government has given striking young doctors an ultimatum – return to work by the end of February or face punishment. About 9,000 medical interns and residents are protesting a plan to increase medical school admissions by 65 percent, leading to severe disruptions in hospital operations.

Officials warn that those who do not return to work by the deadline may be indicted, have their medical licenses suspended for at least three months, and potentially face legal action. The government asserts that adding more doctors is necessary due to the country’s aging population and low doctor-to-patient ratio.

The striking doctors argue that the government should address pay and working conditions before increasing the number of physicians. The Korea Medical Association, representing 140,000 doctors, has expressed support for the protesters but has not decided on joining the strikes.

Critics believe that well-paid doctors oppose the recruitment plan to avoid increased competition and lower income. The government aims to admit 2,000 more medical students next year and up to 10,000 more doctors by 2035, with public support for the plan at around 80 percent. Striking doctors raise concerns about potential overtreatment and the burden on public medical expenses.

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