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지나쌤

Nurses vow collective action after Yoon veto

By Shin Ji-hye

Published : May 17, 2023 - 15:39

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Kim Young-kyung, president of the Korean Nurses Association, speaks at a press conference held to protest the presidential veto of the Nursing Act exercised a day earlier, in Seoul, Tuesday. Yonhap Kim Young-kyung, president of the Korean Nurses Association, speaks at a press conference held to protest the presidential veto of the Nursing Act exercised a day earlier, in Seoul, Tuesday. Yonhap

A group of nurses said Wednesday that they will refuse to carry out doctors' orders for medical procedures that are illegal for them to proceed with, such as prescribing medication, performing surgery and collecting blood samples, in response to President Yoon Suk Yeol's veto of the Nursing Act.

Announcing their first collective action since his rejection of the legislation, the Korean Nurses Association said they will also not follow doctors' orders to conduct ultrasound and electrocardiogram tests.

According to the association, “These tasks are not nurses' work, and it is illegal for (the doctor) to ask the nurse to perform them. The intention (of the protest) is for nurses to only perform care (for patients).”

They plan to distribute a list of illegal tasks that nurses should refuse in medical institutions, establish a reporting center for incidents in which they are ordered illegally to perform tasks beyond their scope, and operate and manage an on-site inspection team independently.

They will also hold a nationwide rally to condemn President Yoon’s veto of the Nursing Act in Gwanghwamun from Friday.

“Even the president -- who exercised his veto without differentiating the truth from the ridiculous false facts -- can not be free from responsibility," the association said.

Nurses will also launch a campaign to return their nursing licenses to protest Yoon's veto of the Nursing Act. Nursing Association President Kim Young-kyung said, "We will collect nurse licenses from across the nation and return them to the Ministry of Health and Welfare next month."

President Yoon on Tuesday exercised his second presidential veto to reject the passing of the Nursing Act, saying that the bill has generated "significant conflict" among related professions.

During his opening speech at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, President Yoon said it is very regrettable that the conflicts have not been resolved through sufficient consultations among relevant professions and thorough deliberation within the National Assembly.

He expressed concerns about the possibility of nurses leaving medical institutions following the enactment of the new bill, arguing that it poses a threat to public health.

The Nursing Act was approved in the National Assembly in a vote led by the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea on April 27, with the ruling People Power Party absent from the vote.

Following President Yoon's veto, the bill will be transferred to the National Assembly within 15 days and be presented once again in the plenary session. The bill will be discarded unless the majority of lawmakers are present, and at least two-thirds of them agree to its passage.

Rep. Park Kwang-on, the floor leader of the Democratic Party, said on Wednesday that his party will initiate a re-vote on the Nursing Act in the National Assembly. “As it is a matter directly related to the right to health of the people, we will proceed according to the National Assembly Act in accordance with the democratic process.”