In light of the doctors39 strike Seoul mobilizes nurses

In light of the doctors' strike, Seoul mobilizes nurses

The South Korean government on Tuesday gave nurses new responsibilities and legal protections amid a revolt among trainees who have resigned massively to oppose a project to reform medical education.

• Also read: Highest health alert in South Korea due to doctors' strike

South Korean nurses will now be allowed to perform certain medical procedures previously reserved for doctors and will enjoy legal protection in the event of legal action related to their new skills, Vice Health Minister Park Min-soo said on Tuesday.

In South Korea, hospital operations were severely disrupted for a week by a protest movement by medical trainees opposing government reforms to increase medical school admissions.

Within a week, more than 10,000 young doctors – or 80.5% of trainees – resigned, even though the government, which considered their actions illegal, ordered them to return to hospitals.

This collective action led to cancellations and postponements of operations. On Friday, the country increased its health alert to the highest level.

“This pilot program will legally protect nurses who fill the medical gap created by the departure of in-house physicians in hospitals,” Mr. Park said.

The government said it needed to protect nurses from a “gray area” regarding medical treatments that could be carried out by this or that member of the medical staff while nurses “take on the workload” due to the wave of layoffs of nurses. internal.

Each hospital's administration must work with nurses to decide what tasks they can perform.

Start an investigation

On Tuesday, the government also said it had opened an investigation after a patient died of cardiac arrest in an ambulance and could not be treated in a hospital.

Emergency services contacted seven different hospitals but “were told there were no medical interns,” South Korean daily JoongAng Ilbo reported.

“The government is conducting an on-site investigation with relevant authorities,” Health Minister Cho Kyoo-hong said.

The South Korean government has ordered medical interns to return to work by Thursday, threatening legal action against those who do not return to their patients or having their licenses revoked.

Kim Sung-ju, director of the Korea Cancer Patients' Rights Council, told AFP that all university hospitals near Seoul are experiencing delays in chemotherapy and surgery.

In South Korea, doctors are considered essential workers and the law prohibits them from striking.

Seoul says its doctor-to-population ratio is among the lowest in developed countries, and the government plans to admit 2,000 medical students each year starting next year.

Doctors vehemently oppose this, claiming it would affect the quality of services. Proponents of the reform fear, above all, that it will reduce their salaries and their social status.

For interns, these changes are the straw that breaks the camel's back, even if they work in difficult conditions and the current healthcare system largely relies on them.

President Yoon Suk Yeol said Tuesday that “medical reform must not be subject to negotiation or compromise.”

“No reason can justify actions that take the lives and health of citizens hostage,” he added.

Polls show around 75% of the population support the reform, with people in remote areas struggling to access quality healthcare.