The legislation to revoke licenses of medical practitioners once they have criminal convictions did not sit well with doctors in South Korea who threatened to stage a protest strike against the law.
The strike might not create impact to the legislation alone, but also with the country’s coronavirus vaccination program that is set to start this week.
In its bid to shield its high-risk people from the disease by July and attain herd immunity by November, the first batch of vaccines from AstraZeneca are expected to reach health workers from Friday.
The country’s largest grouping of doctors, the Korean Medical Association (KMA), however, announced over the weekend that it might hold a strike if the bill to revoke the license of doctors with criminal convictions will be approved by the parliament.
“The bill might result in ordinary, innocent doctors being stripped of their licences and falling into hell because of an accident that has nothing to do with their job, or lack of legal knowledge,” Kim Dae-ha, KMA’s spokesperson, expressed in a statement on Monday.
The bill was also labeled by association president Choi Dae-zip as “cruel” as it can be a factor for destructing the present cooperation with the government in the battle against the COVID-19, particularly through the vaccination drive.
In an interview with Reuters, the KMA said it has not yet determined the date for the strike.
The looming conflict between the doctors and the government triggered concern regarding the vaccine rollout, as authorities 250 inoculation centers and 10, 000 clinics nationwide are seen to need medical personnel allocation.
According to the health ministry, the strife over the bill is unpleasant given the upcoming vaccine rollout.
The ministry added that KMA was stuck in the clasp of “misunderstanding” about the matter.
The Medical Service Act is sought to be revised by the parliaments, preventing doctors from practicing their field when they are guilty of violent crimes like murder and sexual abuse.
According to the lawmakers from the ruling party, the KMA is attempting to “take public health hostage to maintain impunity from heinous crimes,” as they slammed the association.
The KMA, composed of around 14, 000, holds a past of medical policy conflicts with the government.
Amid the pandemic last year, several hospitals shed its staff when the association instigated walkouts to push their agenda in ramping up the number of medical students, establish medical education institutions, relax insurance coverage and boost the options in telemedicine.