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More than 700 civilians visit military hospitals while doctors are absent

Civilian patients enter the emergency room of the Armed Forces Capital Hospital in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, February 25.  Yonhap

Civilian patients enter the emergency room of the Armed Forces Capital Hospital in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, February 25. Yonhap

Military hospitals across the country have treated more than 700 civilians since they fully opened their doors to the public in mid-February, the Defense Ministry said on Sunday, amid the prolonged strike by trainee doctors.

Military hospital emergency departments became fully accessible to civilians to help address concerns about healthcare disruptions after thousands of trainee doctors began the strike on February 19 in protest against a government plan to sharply increase the number of medical school places next year.

As of Friday, 768 patients have visited military hospitals nationwide since the strike began, with 397 of them being treated at the Armed Forces Capital Hospital in Seongnam, just south of Seoul, according to the ministry.

It says 138 patients have undergone surgery or been hospitalized, with 66 requiring emergency surgery, including a woman in her 70s who had a cycling accident on April 3.

During a visit to the Armed Forces Capital Hospital on Thursday, Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said the government would take measures so that patients with severe trauma can be sent to military hospitals, noting their expertise in such treatments. (Yonhap)