Yoon’s med school quota hike plan at crossroads following ruling party’s election defeat

A doctor heads toward a major hospital in Seoul, Friday. Yonhap

The Yoon Suk Yeol administration is standing at a crossroads regarding its plan to raise the number of medical students starting next year, following the crushing defeat of the ruling People Power Party (PPP) in the general elections held on Wednesday.Authorities are agonizing over whether to push ahead with the plan to add the 2,000 new slots to the annual medical school admissions quota, currently set at 3,058, or adopt an exit strategy through negotiations with the doctors’ community, amid the protracted government-doctor confrontation that has resulted in massive disruptions to medical services since February.In the elections, the PPP obtained only 108 seats in the 300-member National Assembly amid growing public skepticism over the Yoon government’s management of state affairs.The hike in the number of medical students does not require legislative approval, which means the government can still press on with the policy and implement it as planned, if it has a strong will.But it is widely assessed that the government lost its momentum significantly following the election defeat of the ruling party.Doctors are already claiming that the government’s unilateral push for the quota hike, which brought about a walkout by thousands of trainee doctors nationwide, led to the election defeat.

“The election results amount to the true public opinion, a judgment toward the government,” the Korean Medical Association (KMA) — the biggest doctors’ coalition — said in a statement announced in a press briefing, Friday.The KMA called the quota increase plan a “populist policy pledge” pushed in the name of medical reform ahead of the elections. It called on the government to withdraw the policy and go back to square one, saying such a sudden hike would compromise the quality of medical education and training.”If the government really has the will to talk with doctors, it should first withdraw back-to-work orders (to doctors on strike), lawsuits (filed against doctors’ group leaders) and various administrative measures, and stop the process to allocate new slots to universities,” it said.Several ruling party members have also raised their voices against the government.Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo, who will be a fourth-term lawmaker following his latest election victory, urged Yoon to postpone implementing the quota hike policy by a year.“Yoon also needs to sack officials responsible for the current health care standoff,” the doctor-turned-politician wrote on Facebook, Friday. “The government, doctors, patients and international organizations all need to join 카지노사이트킹 forces to resolve the issue.”

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