The Star (Nairobi)

29 August 2012

Kenya: KNH Strike Hampering Treatment, Says CEO

KENYATTA National Hospital management is appealing to the government to urgently address concerns raised by doctors to end the ongoing strike.

The strike, which enters day three today, was called by the Kenya Medical Pharmacists and Dentists Union to petition the government to implement a return-to-work-formula that subsequently ended an industrial action last year.

Speaking yesterday at KNH, CEO Richard Lesiyampe called on key players in the strike to embrace dialogue and address the impending issues to save patients agony. In a hurriedly convened press briefing, Lesiyampe said the hospital had adversely been affected by the strike, as the facility heavily relies on the services of the striking workforce. "The registrars complement the KNH workforce and provide essential services in Accident and Emergency and specialised clinics," he said.

Lesiyampe singled out specialised clinics that offer surgery, neurology and urology, which he said are the hardest hit, despite efforts by the hospital to equip them. Last year, the government heeded to the union's demand to pay the doctors an extraneous allowance of Sh92,000 to cater for their basic needs, but has not operationalised the agreement eight months since its signing.

While hailing the services offered by the doctors, Lesiyampe said KNH had been compelled to scale down operations in some departments and turn away patients whose conditions were not serious, and did not require specialised treatment. "Withdrawal of their services has affected service delivery in the hospital as they play very crucial role," he said, adding that the management has been compelled to recall all consultants and clinical officers on leave to help cushion the deficit.

Registrars constitute 400 medical personnel, 200 government sponsored and the rest self sponsored, who are undergoing training at the University of Nairobi. The government has 19 days to address the medics' plights, failure to which they have vowed to mobilise other doctors for a nationwide strike.

Earlier yesterday, KPMDU secretary general Were Onyino reiterated the union's status quo, saying no feedback had been forthcoming from the ministry officials. Speaking on the phone Were said, "there has been no communication from the government in spite of our efforts to seek for dialogue." A spot check at the Accident and Emergency wing revealed slow operations at the usually hectic department that normally attends to among others disaster victims.

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