Nairobi — The government has threatened to take disciplinary action against striking registrar doctors at the Kenyatta and Mathari hospitals.
A letter signed by Patrick Musichi on behalf of the Ministry of Medical Services dated August 30, states that the registrar doctors are suspended from duty with immediate effect.
"Absence from duty without permission or reasonable cause is viewed as a gross breach of discipline which may render you liable to summary dismissal with loss of all terminal benefits," the letter states in part.
"While on suspension you will not earn any salary and you are expected to be reporting to the office of the Provincial Director of Medical Services, Nairobi as shall be agreed with her," it further reads.
But the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Union Chairman Victor Ng'ani told Capital FM News that the registrars would not go back to work until the issue of pay for the self sponsored registrars and payment of postgraduate fees to universities for the government sponsored registrars was addressed.
"This is standard government tactics. They keep threatening people. We are going to review the progress and see what has happened, we are also going to address this particular letter that has been sent threatening to dismiss government sponsored registrars," he said.
Registrar doctors are those training to specialise in specific fields but already have a first degree in medicine, another degree in surgery, done internship and worked for over four years.
Currently, there are about 450 registrar doctors out of who 200 are government sponsored and the rest are self sponsored.
According to Ng'ani, only the government sponsored registrars are paid a salary.
"It is a completely irrational practice so either you come from a very rich family or you agree to work for four to six years without any kind of pay and still pay your fees. It is an unacceptable practice that has to come to an end," he stated.
In the past, he said, all registrars were government sponsored and all of them were on government pay.
"At some point the government stopped training them in adequate numbers so we had a big lag, a lot of doctors wanted to specialise but had no opportunity because there were not enough government sponsorships and that is how self sponsorship came up," he explained.
"When this happened, the government did not shift its policy to begin to pay the self sponsored registrars for the work that they do," he added.
The self sponsored registrars are on strike over pay while the government sponsored ones want the State to pay up arrears to universities which amount to Sh200million.
"The money was released by the Treasury in January this year for postgraduate fees for the government sponsored specialist doctors in training but is yet to be paid out to the universities putting in jeopardy their training," Ng'ani had said last week.
The self sponsored doctors on the other hand want a monthly stipend of Sh92,000.
He said the union had issued the government with a 14-day nationwide strike notice if no action was taken to resolve the stalemate.
"The registrars are not going back to work that one is very clear. The Minister of Medical Services and Afya House team have decided that they are going to use threats and intimidation, we've told them clearly it will not work and on the 13th of September all doctors throughout the country if this will not have been resolved will go on strike," he maintained.
"So far there are just 10 days to go (to a strike by all doctors). Expect the government to do nothing until the 12th or the 13th then they will start to push for dialogue."