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Patients in South Korea Can’t Get Surgery, Yet Doctors on Strike Are Still Getting Paid

Despite the strike, resident doctors received their salaries, plunging large hospitals into financial difficulties. The government declared that there is “no obligation to pay wages.”

Source: News1

In the middle of last month, resident doctors protested against the government’s increased quota for medical schools.

After obtaining their medical license, a resident doctor refers to interns and residents undergoing specialist training in university hospitals and similar institutions.

However, it has been reported that salaries were paid normally to doctors who did not work due to the strike.

According to recent reports in the medical community, some hospitals in Seoul normally pay salaries to striking resident doctors.

Initially, these doctors had submitted their resignations and ceased work, but the government has ordered hospitals not to accept these resignations, so they are still considered ’employed.’ Therefore, the residents on strike received their salaries.

Also, according to current labor laws, wages cannot be received during a strike period, but these doctors’ collective action is not legally considered a strike.

Source: News1

Their departure resulted in patients not receiving scheduled surgeries, which was unethical and negatively impacted hospital finances.

The ‘Big 5’ hospitals, where residents make up about 40% of all doctors, saw fewer consultations and surgeries as doctors left.

According to Gyeongsang National University Hospital, the number of surgeries dropped from an average of 37 per day from January 1 to February 18 this year to 32 afterward, and the bed occupancy rate decreased from 74% to 53%. Revenue decreased by about $220,000 from an average of $1.06 million to $840,000.

Seoul National University Hospital and Asan Medical Center in Seoul saw a decrease in daily sales of about $890,000 each due to the doctor’s departure. In particular, Seoul National University Hospital, which suffered a deficit of about $80 million last year, is said to have created an overdraft of about $89 million, doubling the limit of the previous overdraft of about $44.5 million.

Severance Hospital has entered an emergency management system.

Considering the departure of the resident doctors started in mid-February, the loss is expected to increase this month.

Source: News1

In response, the government declared no obligation to pay wages during non-work.

On the 8th, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said, “According to the interpretation of employment relationship regulations, there is no obligation to pay wages during the period when the resident did not provide labor.” It also said that the employment of residents who did not return to the field is illegal.

People reacted by saying, “The hospitals should just sue the doctors for damages,” “They already earn a lot, now causing inconvenience,” “No work, no pay makes sense,” and “They should also block re-employment for those doctors who left.”

According to the ‘Healthcare Workforce Survey’ announced by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the average annual income of a doctor is about $204,000. Calculated monthly, they earn about $17,000. Dentists had the highest annual salary of about $167,000, followed by oriental medicine doctors earning about $165,000.

However, a resident’s monthly salary is usually around $3,500$4,400. When a hospital pays a resident’s salary, indirect costs are added, and about $5,300$6,200 is invested.

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