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Gov't Raises Health Alert to 'Serious', Prime Minister Urges Doctors to Return to Patients

Written: 2024-02-23 10:00:21Updated: 2024-02-23 14:49:36

Gov't Raises Health Alert to 'Serious', Prime Minister Urges Doctors to Return to Patients

Photo : YONHAP News

The government has raised its health care service crisis status to the highest level of “serious” after thousands of doctors walked off the job this week to protest against a government plan to raise the medical school admissions quota.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare made the decision Thursday night to raise the gauge starting at 8 a.m. Friday, explaining that the collective action of the doctors' group is increasingly threatening the health and lives of the people. 

With the elevated crisis level, the government's response to the collective action will be overseen by the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters headed by Prime Minister Han Duck-soo. 

Han on Friday held a meeting at the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters, saying that in response to the elevated crisis level, the government will extend the operating hours of all public health care institutions to the fullest extent possible on weekdays, and expand services for consultations on weekends and public holidays. 

He also said the government will create metropolitan emergency situation offices overseeing the transport and transfers of intensive care patients and emergency cases early next month in four regions to ensure those in need can receive timely treatment.

Reporting that 89-hundred trainee doctors had submitted resignations as of Thursday and 78-hundred of them had left their workplaces, the prime minister urged the trainee doctors to return to their patients before it’s too late, saying that illegal collective action could destroy young doctors’ dreams of becoming respected practitioners.

Warning the Korean Medical Association against pushing junior doctors into danger, the prime minister also reaffirmed that the government is open to dialogue with doctors at any time.

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