Junior Doctors Will Lose A Year Unless They Return By This Week: South Korea

(MENAFN- IANS) Seoul, May 13 (IANS) South Korea's Second Vice Health Minister, Park Min-soo, on Monday, said that junior doctors may face a one-year delay in getting medical fellowships unless they return to work by the end of this week.

The prolonged walkouts by some 12,000 trainee doctors, who have left their worksites since February 20 in protest of the government's push to boost the number of medical students, have caused disruptions in public health services at major hospitals.

The walkouts are also expected to prompt disarray in their careers because junior doctors will not be eligible for next year's test to become fellow doctors unless they are trained at hospitals for more than three months, Yonhap news agency reported.

"Unless medical residents return to work this week, the timing of obtaining medical fellowships may be delayed by one year in accordance with relevant regulations," Park told reporters.

"We urge the junior doctors to return to their workplaces and fulfil their duties as doctors to avoid potential disadvantages in their future careers," Park said.

Officials at the health ministry and the medical community have predicted that trainee doctors must return to hospitals by around May 20 if they want to apply for the test to become fellow doctors.

Park also said the government would provide funds from the national health insurance system to training hospitals, which have been suffering from financial difficulties due to the walkouts.

The Seoul High Court, meanwhile, is widely expected to deliver its verdict by no later than Friday on an injunction filed by the medical community seeking to halt the government's plan to increase the medical school quota by 2,000.

"The government has submitted documents requested by the court on Friday," Park said. The move followed the court's request for data that can back the authorities' claim that the 2,000-seat increase in the medical school quota was based on scientific grounds.

Meanwhile, the medical community claims that the government made the decision to increase quotas arbitrarily without logical justification and has also accused authorities of mishandling minutes of relevant meetings.



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