More doctors in South Korea join protest, authorities warn patients at risk

SEOUL — Thousands of trainee doctors at South Korea’s biggest hospitals joined a walkout on Wednesday (Feb 21) to protest a plan to admit more students to medical school, disrupting treatment for scores of patients, health authorities said.

The government wants to increase medical school admissions from 3,000 now to 5,000 from the 2025 academic year, and then add 10,000 more by 2035, in a bid to boost healthcare in remote areas and cope with the increasing demands of one of the world’s most rapidly ageing societies.

Doctors and medical students who have joined the protest, however, say South Korea has enough doctors, and the authorities should first improve pay and working conditions, especially for specialists in demanding fields such as paediatrics and emergency medicine, before recruiting more students.

Park Min-soo, a vice health minister, called on the protesters to prioritise their patients over collective action.


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