Patients left in pain as medics down tools

Tuesday, September 29th, 2020 00:00 |
Patients at the Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi are taken away by relatives following medical workers’ strike. Photo/PD/Kenna Claude

Healthcare services at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) have been paralysed after medics downed tools, forcing patients to seek treatment elsewhere.

The strike came on a day doctors in other counties also downed tools and threatened not return to work until their grievances are addressed. 

At KNH, workers from Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union, Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) and Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Education Institutions, Hospitals and Allied Workers Union accused the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) of failing to harmonise salaries.

According to an insider, the facility, which handles more than 100 casualties a day, yesterday handled less than 10.

At the facility, People Daily caught up with David Otieno, who was is in deep thoughts pondering his next move.

The weakly Otieno was in excruciating pain. He says he has resigned to fate as the medical caregivers remain adamant unless their demands are met.

“I am in deep pain. I leave my fate to God. I must say the situation here is dire and I appeal to the government to act swiftly and intervene,” he said.

Otieno was not the only patient forced to leave the facility. Other patients were equally in pain were turned away as no medic was willing to attend to them. 

KNH’s union has faulted SRC for failing to implement the 7a Clause established in 2012, which elevated the status of the hospital to a parastatal, consequently elevating all the 7,000 employees’ salaries to a different scale.

Failed mandate

Knun Secretary-General Seth Panyako has bashed the commission, accusing it of failing to execute its role. 

“SRC is behaving as if it wants to prefect every organ in this country,” said Panyako. 

The workers further allege that they have remained stunted in same remuneration formula as the chief executive has been forced to work with salaries proposed in 2012.

Staff and the management have had a dispute since 2012 when the State Corporation Advisory Committee re-categorised all parastatals, including referral hospitals from level 3B to PC 7A. 

Union claims the re-categorisation should have come with a salary increment of all 7,000 workers, a discordant view from that of the KNH management and the SRC.

Elsewhere in Trans Nzoia, doctors in all public hospitals downed their tools in protest against delayed salaries and a lack of protective equipment when handling patients who may have Covid-19.

Deliberate move

Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union North Rift Branch Secretary Dr Ishmael Aiyabey, said the perennial salary delays, with the August one yet to be paid, non-remittance of statutory and third party deductions among them bank loans, Sacco contributions, insurance premiums, which have attracted penalties to members has compounded to the strike.

“Since 2017, the county government has not been remitting union dues amounting to over Sh4 million.

We consider it a deliberate move to muzzle the union. To deter it from following up matters concerning members.

We are giving the ministry a warning to immediately address this matter before it gets worse,” he said.

Situation at the Coast Provincial General Hospital was similar as medics called on the hospital’s administration to begin discharging patients following the doctor’s strike which kicked off yesterday.

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