KMA doctors to go on strike MondayUpdated: 2014-03-09 18:15:05 (KST)
A one-day strike led by the Korean Medical Association will go on as planned on Monday.
Doctors won't be providing medical services, and many hospitals across the nation will be closed, although emergency rooms will remain open.
Starting Tuesday and running through March 23rd, the strike will transition to a work-to-rule action, meaning doctors won't work more than 40 hours a week, and will treat patients for no longer than 15 minutes.
A full six-day strike is then planned to begin on the 24th.
Monday's walk-out will be larger than initially expected, as the Korea Intern Resident Association announced its participation on Saturday.
That decision was spurred after the government said it would press criminal charges against striking doctors and suspend their business operations.
"The walk-out, coming in the middle of the negotiation process between the government and the medical association, is unacceptable. It's clearly an illegal action that puts public health at risk."
"It's regrettable that we had to make the extreme decision of closing hospitals and not treating patients. I am resentful toward the government."
The KMA's strike was called in protest of a government plan to introduce a telemedicine system that would allow for patients in remote areas to be diagnosed via webcam, smartphone, or even e-mail.
KMA doctors say it will impair the quality of medical services.
The medical association is also up in arms over a government move to run for-profit subsidiaries.
While the government says it will improve the nation's medical industry, the KMA says it will only lead to a hike in medical bills.
Doctors are concerned the reforms could eventually lead to privatization of the medical sector.
In order to minimize inconveniences on Monday,.. usually the busiest day for hospitals, the government has ordered public health centers to extend their hours.
The medical strike stands to be the largest in 14 years, and with negotiations between both sides at a stalemate, some fear it will continue for the long term.
Kwon Soa, Arirang News.
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