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Gov¡¯t tries to head off doctor strike

Posted August. 10, 2000 11:52,   


In a move to address the problems resulting form medical reform, the government decided August 9 to again amend the Pharmaceutical Law and to adopt a gradated increase of doctors` insurance claims, currently standing at 80% of the doctor`s fee to 90% next year, and 100% by 2002.

The government also revealed a plan to increase doctor`s fees to an appropriate level, to freeze the number of 2001 medical school entrants to the current level and to effect a 10% decrease in the number of entrants in 2002.

A meeting led by Prime Minister Lee Han-Dong with Minister of Health and Welfare Choi Sung-Jung, with other related ministers in attendance, discussed and formulated countermeasures to the Korea Medical Association¡¯s decision for a general strike and attempted to bring the KMA to the closed-door negotiation table.

However, the request for talks was given a cold shoulder by the medical field, as they called the government`s countermeasures nothing more than reaffirmation of the current reform. As such, the call for the strike remains in force.

Following the walkout by specialists, residents and interns at major hospitals, medical professors decided Aug. 9 to join the walkout, and the call by the KMA for a general strike has sent shock waves through neighborhood doctors¡¯ offices, with many posed to heed the KMA`s call.

The medical professors at Seoul National University held an emergency meeting in the afternoon and decided to stop seeing patients starting August 10. Medical professors at the Catholic University and the Kyae-Myung Medical School in Taegu have decided to join the strike August 11. Koryo University`s medical professors will discontinue seeing patients August 14.

Earlier in the day, Minister Choi met with the three leaders of the KMA who are currently under arrest, including the association¡¯s president Kim Jae-Jung, and suggested a resolution for the call to strike through dialogues and pledged he would place all his effort toward promoting the public`s respect for doctors.

"The medical reform must be implemented according to fundamental principles, and the government needs to have greater concern about the younger members of the medical field including the clinicians, residents and interns serving at major hospitals and currently in a state of emotional fear," the KMA president reportedly said.