Health News: Surgeons in South Korea go on strike, leading to cancellations of hospital surgeries

Seoul’s largest hospitals have had to decrease the number of surgeries they perform by half as a result of a strike by trainee doctors who are protesting against health reforms. The strike has also led to the cancellation and postponement of various medical procedures, including treatments for cancer, as well as delays for pregnant women. The protest has gained momentum, with over 9,275 trainee doctors participating in the walkout, prompting the South Korean government to threaten arrests.

The dispute arose when the government announced plans to increase the number of students admitted to medical schools in an effort to strengthen the country’s healthcare system, which is struggling to meet the needs of an ageing population. The strike, however, has led to a reduction in surgeries at major hospitals in Seoul, including Severance Hospital, St Mary’s Hospital, and Asan Medical Center. This has resulted in hardships for patients, such as one brain cancer patient whose chemotherapy has been postponed.

Public opinion is divided, with a majority of Koreans supporting the government’s plan. However, the protesters argue that South Korea already has enough doctors and are demanding better pay and working conditions before the recruitment of more students. The intern and resident doctors association has expressed willingness to face arrests in order to have their demands heard, and is open to dialogue if the government is willing to engage in discussions. Furthermore, hundreds of doctors in Seoul plan to hold a rally in front of President Yoon’s office to further push for their demands to be met.

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