The Korean Intern Resident Association (KIRA) has come to the negotiation table to persuade hospitals not to support the government’s plan to increase medical school admissions quotas, before going on a strike.
However, KIRA and the Korean Hospital Association (KHA) could not find common ground.
KIRA President Park Ji-hyun and Vice President Kim Jin-hyun met with KHA President Jeong Young-ho on Tuesday to discuss the government’s plan.
During the meeting, KIRA argued that expanding the medical school admissions quotas would cause adverse effects, while KHA said hospitals were suffering a shortage of doctors.
KHA added that the government should improve training for interns and residents to minimize the negative impact of an increase in the number of doctors.
“Unless the government drastically improves the doctor-nurturing system including medical training for a smooth medical delivery system, increasing medical school admissions quotas will not solve the core problem,” KHA President Jeong told Korea Biomedical Review. “The government should also prepare to allocate doctors properly,” he added.
Despite the different stance with KHA, KIRA said it would continue to engage in a dialogue before a strike.
KIRA is to meet with lawmakers under the National Assembly Health and Welfare Committee and officials at the Medical Resource Policy Division of the Ministry of Health and Welfare on Wednesday, to warn the side effects of an increase in medical school admissions quotas and to demand a withdrawal of the plan.
KIRA is also preparing for a strike on Aug. 7.
To prevent an excessive shortage of medical care incurred by a strike, KIRA seeks to collaborate with specialists.
KIRA said trainee doctors working at the emergency rooms, intensive care units, delivery rooms, and dialysis rooms would be exempt from a strike.
KIRA will determine a detailed schedule for a strike at an emergency meeting of the association on Saturday this week.
If the government does not announce any intention to revise its plan by the first week of August, KIRA will go on a strike on Aug. 7, the association said.
KIRA said the group was powerful enough to fight against the government, as 80 percent of interns and residents opposed the increase of medical school admissions.
“We will meet not only the KHA president but other hospital officials to deliver our opinions. But if they don’t accept our opinions, we have no option but to stage a walkout,” KIRA Vice President Kim said.
Not only the Korean Medical Association but interns and residents are taking the issue seriously, he went on to say.
Kim emphasized that KIRA was seeking co-work with specialist physicians to minimize medical care shortage caused by a strike of trainee doctors.
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