A second doctors' strike following last week's one-day walk-out may have been averted, with a tentative agreement reached by Korean Medical Association and the government.
The KMA and the Ministry of Health and Welfare have been in unofficial negotiations since last Friday on the government's plans to reform the medical sector.
They reached tentative agreement on a number of issues after marathon talks on Sunday that lasted until midnight and made separate announcements about the talks on Monday.
The agreement covers four points: the introduction of a telemedicine system that would enable doctors to diagnose and treat patients using remote monitoring and interactive services, the government's plan to let hospitals set up for-profit subsidiaries, reform of the nation's health insurance system and shorter work hours for medical residents and interns.
The KMA and the government agreed to conduct a six-month trial run of the telemedicine system in order to test its safety and effectiveness.
The system was a major issue that sparked the medical association's day-long strike last week.
They also agreed to gradually shorten the working hours of medical residents and interns, who work around 1-hundred hours a week, which is 20 hours more than in the U.S.
In addition, the KMA and the government are talking about setting up a committee to tackle other issues such as health insurance reform.
Members of the medical association will now vote on whether to go ahead with a second six-day strike slated to start on March 24th, but with the recent agreement, there is a high chance the strike will be cancelled.
The association plans to make a decision on the matter in the next two or three days.
Kwon Soa, Arirang News.
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