South Korea nurses to take on more medical work due to doctor walkout

SEOUL: South Korean nurses have been given legal protection to perform some medical procedures normally conducted by doctors, the health minister said on Tuesday (Feb 27), as authorities seek to ease the burden on hospital staff caused by a walkout of trainee doctors.

Nurses have complained about the legal risk and heavier workload they face after trainee doctors walked off the job last week to protest against a government plan to boost the number of medical school admissions to address a shortage of doctors.

More than two-thirds of the country’s resident and intern doctors have left their posts, disrupting services at major hospitals, where emergency rooms have turned away patients and surgeries and other procedures were cancelled or postponed.

Health Minister Cho Kyoo-hong said the government was activating a programme that “legally protects nurses performing procedures within a medical institution” and the scope of the work they can perform will be determined by the hospitals.

The government has invited the striking doctors to hold a dialogue but the two sides have yet to meet. Senior doctors and private practitioners have not joined the walkout but have held rallies and urged the government to scrap its plan.


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