Medical professors set to take day off amid protracted walkouts by junior doctors

Medical professors at major hospitals were set to take a day off Friday, the third of its kind in two weeks as they expressed fatigue from filling the void of trainee doctors who left their worksites in protest of the government's medical reform. While fatigued medical professors take a leave of absence, treatment of critically ill patients and inpatient services at their hospitals will be provided, according to the hospitals. Medical professors took a day off on April 30 and May 3, but no major disruptions of public health services were reported. On Friday, some medical professors at four major hospitals in Seoul -- Seoul National University Hospital, Asan Medical Center, Severance Hospital and Seoul St. Mary's Hospital -- were set to take a voluntary leave of absence. It was unclear how many professors would take a day off, but their action is expected to affect some 50 hospitals nationwide. The professors, who are senior doctors at general hospitals, started taking a weekly day off in solidarity with some 12,000 trainee doctors who have left their worksites since Feb. 20 in protest of the plan to boost the number of medical students by 2,000. The weekly day off came amid the prolonged standoff between the government and the medical community on the medical reform. On the previous day, President Yoon Suk Yeol said in a press conference that the reform plan "is a task that can no longer be delayed," indicating the government intends to accomplish the initiative despite the protest. Later in the day, the government plans to host the second round of a presidential committee on medical reform launched last month to resolve the issue, although doctors have been boycotting the platform, calling for a complete abandonment of the plan. The government, meanwhile, also plans to submit minutes and other documents to verify that the decision to increase the number of medical school students by 2,000 was based on scientific grounds to the Seoul High Court on Friday. The move came as doctors raised suspicions that the minutes may not exist, although the government claimed that all required meetings were documented. Source: Yonhap News Agency