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Major university hospital professors consider a day off each week

Major university hospital professors consider a day off each week

Posted April. 24, 2024 08:04,   

Updated April. 24, 2024 08:04


Professors from Seoul National University Hospital, Bundang Seoul National University Hospital, and Boramae Hospital have decided to suspend outpatient visits and surgeries every Tuesday starting from April 30, except for emergency and critical patients. About 20 major university hospitals, including Seoul Asan Hospital and Severance Hospital, are also considering participating in a weekly voluntary shutdown, further exacerbating the medical vacuum.

The Emergency Response Committee of Seoul National University's Medical School and Hospital convened on Tuesday afternoon and resolved to suspend outpatient visits and surgeries once a week. A committee spokesperson stated that the decision was made due to professors' accumulated fatigue from working 80 to 100 hours a week after the departure of residents and interns, adding that they needed a day off to cope with the prolonged situation. They also emphasized that emergency surgeries and treatment for critical patients would continue as usual.

The National Emergency Response Committee of Medical School Professors held a general meeting on the same day to discuss reducing medical services once a week. Chungbuk National University has suspended outpatient visits at Chungbuk National University Hospital every Friday since April 5. Chungnam National University and Wonkwang University have also decided to suspend outpatient visits at their affiliated hospitals starting Friday. Among major medical schools, apart from Seoul National University, Ulsan University, which has Seoul Asan Hospital, and Yonsei University, which has Severance Hospital, are considering reducing their medical services.

Resignations are also being submitted. Catholic University Medical School plans to submit resignations from professors at eight affiliated hospitals, including Seoul St. Mary's Hospital, on Friday and discuss further reduction of medical services next week. A spokesperson at Ulsan University Medical School's committee said professors are considering a collective parental leave should resignations are not accepted.

However, the government maintains its stance of not reconsidering the professors' demand for a reeval‎uation of medical school quota expansion. Presidential Secretary for Social Affairs Jang Sang-yoon said during a briefing at the presidential office on Tuesday, expressed regret over the medical community's insistence on the reeval‎uation of medical school expansion without engaging in negotiations with the government, despite the government's proposal of a "5+4 Consultative Body" in private a week ago.

Nevertheless, the government is not expected to issue treatment continuation orders as it did when residents and interns left hospitals. "Professors have voluntarily filled in for residents and interns after the medical gap,” a senior official from the Ministry of Health and Welfare said. “We could issue treatment continuation orders legally, but we are not considering it at the moment."

박경민 기자 mean@donga.com