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Medical professors at S. Korea's Catholic University shelve plan on indefinite walkout

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Seoul, June 25 (IANS) Medical professors at eight hospitals affiliated with the Catholic University of Korea on Tuesday voted to shelve their plan on an indefinite walkout, following a decision by medical professors at Seoul National University to end their collective action.

The move came as expectations have grown over potential talks between the medical community and the government to resolve a monthslong standoff over medical reform, Yonhap News Agency reported.

The emergency committee of medical professors at the Catholic University said that about 70 per cent of them voted in favour of alternative protest methods, such as reducing treatment for non-critical patients, instead of a walkout.

The committee, however, said 82 per cent of the professors also vowed to join a walkout if necessary in the future.

"Hospitals of the Catholic University of Korea decided to put off an indefinite strike, although we will continue to protest and resist the government's misguided policies in various formats," it added.

The latest decision came after medical professors at Seoul National University Hospital and its affiliates decided to end their indefinite strike last Friday, saying they could not put patients at risk anymore.

South Korea's top doctors' lobby group, the Korea Medical Association (KMA), also announced it will not begin an indefinite walkout on Thursday as previously planned.

Medical professors at Asan Medical Center, which had earlier vowed to launch a walkout starting July 4, were seen closely monitoring situations at other hospitals as well.

"(The plan) is flexible depending on changes in the government's stance," an official from the medical professors' committee at Asan Medical Center said, hinting that doctors are considering maintaining treatments for critically ill patients.

Prospects for talks between the medical community and the government have been growing after Lim Hyun-taek, a hawkish head of the KMA, stepped back from the standoff, prompting the organisation to form a special committee to initiate a dialogue.

Medical professors at three major hospitals of Yonsei University -- Severance Hospital, Gangnam Severance Hospital, and Yongin Severance Hospital -- however, have not yet announced a change to their plan to launch an indefinite walkout on Thursday.



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