Medical groups disagree over strike

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Medical groups disagree over strike

The Korean Hospital Association, a 1,500-member lobbying group for the heads of major hospitals, said yesterday it will not take part in any nationwide strike planned by the Korean Medical Association.

“We do not agree with the measure [proposed by the KMA] to go on strike,” said spokesman Rha Chun-kyun of the KHA yesterday.

The KHA is an interest group for the heads of hospitals with more than 30 beds while the KMA is a group for doctors who run smaller medical clinics. The KMA has 95,000 members.

The KHA’s announcement yesterday came two days after the KMA said it will soon hold a vote among members to decide whether to strike on March 3 to protest the government’s plan to allow remote medical services via telecommunication devices and medical institutes to run for-profit subsidiaries at home and abroad.

The association regards setting up such subsidies as a step toward the establishment of for-profit hospitals, a charge the government denies. The KMA opposes remote medical checkups and treatments, saying it puts patients at risk because it will be too difficult for doctors to assess their conditions accurately. But it also fears the remote treatment business will be dominated by large hospitals with big budgets, not small clinics like the ones owned by the KMA members.

The KHA supports the government’s plan to allow medical institutes to set up for-profit subsidiaries that will serve auxiliary functions, such as research and development and medical-tourism facilities.

“The new measures are intended to help many hospitals overcome financial difficulties and will be a boon for the national economy by expanding the medical market,” said Kim Yoon-soo, chairman of the KHA, in a New Year’s address delivered yesterday.

Meanwhile, the disgruntled KMA began talks with the government to resolve their disagreements yesterday, raising hopes the group will cancel its strike idea.


BY KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr ]

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