PM asks heads of ‘Big 5’ hospitals to play role in forming dialogue channel to end walkout

Prime Minister Han Duck-soo called upon the heads of major general hospitals Friday to play a role in efforts to establish a dialogue channel between the government and doctors to end a prolonged walkout by junior doctors protesting a hike in the medical school admission quota. More than 90 percent of the country's 13,000 trainee doctors have been on strike in the form of mass resignations since Feb. 20 to protest the government's decision to increase the medical school enrollment quota by 2,000 seats from the current 3,058 starting next year. In an attempt at a breakthrough, Han met with the chiefs of the so-called "Big Five" hospitals. "Despite the government's continued efforts for dialogue with the medical community, a dialogue mechanism has not been established yet," Han said during a meeting. "I hope that hospital heads who always work with trainee doctors and professors will play a role." Han reiterated the government's commitment to actively invest in improving the treatment of interns and reside nts, emphasizing the importance of cooperation in this process. The prime minister once again urged junior doctors on strike to return to their workplaces, acknowledging the considerable financial strain on hospitals due to reduced patient care resulting from the collective action. The meeting marks the second of its kind, as medical professors at major general hospitals nationwide have begun submitting mass resignations in support of medical interns and residents. The government has expressed openness to dialogue to resolve the situation but remains firm on the decision to increase the quota. Source: Yonhap News Agency