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Hospital workers urge doctors to scrap planned strike in S. Korea next week

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Seoul, June 14 (IANS) A union representing hospital workers on Friday urged doctors to abandon their plan for a one-day walkout scheduled for next week, as the medical sector has been experiencing a nearly four-month-long vacuum due to physicians protesting the increase in medical school quotas.

The Korea Medical Association (KMA), a major lobby group for doctors, earlier announced the plan to stage a one-day walkout on Tuesday, which could involve community doctors and medical professors nationwide, reports Yonhap news agency.

“There is no cause or justification for the collective walkout of doctors,” the Korean Health and Medical Workers’ Union, which holds nurses and other related workers as members, said in a statement.

The union specifically criticised medical professors for joining the action instead of persuading junior doctors, who have left hospitals since February, to return.

Professors from the country’s 40 medical schools have recently decided to join the general strike, although it remains unclear how many of the senior doctors will actually participate in the walkout.

Medical professors at four major hospitals affiliated with Seoul National University have also warned of an indefinite walkout starting Monday.

“The medical community should engage in dialogue to save essential, regional and public medical services, and cooperate to normalize medical services instead of turning its back on the people,” the union added.

The KMA, meanwhile, announced the previous day that it may consider withdrawing the walkout if the government “shows a change in its stance”.

Despite fierce protests by trainee doctors, the government finalised an admissions quota hike of some 1,500 students for medical schools late last month, marking the first such increase in 27 years.

–IANS

na/dpb

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