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S.Korea allows nurses to perform more medical roles to tackle health services crisis

S.Korea allows nurses to perform more medical roles to tackle health services crisis

 
- Thousands of doctors protest across country against government plans to increase number of medical seats
 

By Anadolu staff

ANKARA (AA) - The South Korean government decided on Tuesday to increase the medical roles of nurses to overcome healthcare service crises in hospitals after thousands of doctors resigned.

To fill the vacuum in medical service, nurses were allowed from Tuesday to perform more medical roles under legal protection, the Seoul-based Yonhap News reported.

The country's hospitals are facing crises after 8,939 trainee doctors have walked off the job and over 9,900 submitted their resignations.

Doctors are protesting the government’s plans to increase the number of medical seats to address a shortage of doctors, particularly in rural areas and essential medical fields, including high-risk surgeries, pediatrics, obstetrics, and emergency medicine.

Doctors, however, demand that the government rather focus on improving compensation to induce more physicians to practice in such unpopular areas.

The protest by doctors over the past eight days has put a strain on healthcare across the country with South Korean military opening their hospitals for civilian patients.

South Korea has some 13,000 trainee doctors, and the government wants to add 2,000 more seats to 3,058 students enrolled annually.

Since the doctors began the protest, patient numbers have fallen by 24% at hospitals, while the number of surgeries performed in hospitals also plunged by 50%, according to the agency.

On Tuesday, the country's Health Minister Cho Kyoo-hong warned the trainee doctors to return to work or face legal action, including the suspension of licenses.

"We urge trainee doctors who have left their workplaces to return by Thursday. If they do, they will not be held accountable for previous actions," the agency quoted Cho as saying.

"Starting March, suspending licenses and initiating legal proceedings will be unavoidable for those who do not return," said the minister.

The minister's warning came after medical students also boycotted classes at six medical schools across the country.

 

*Writing by Islamuddin Sajid

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