Seven patients have died at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret in the last four days as a result of the ongoing strike by the doctors and nurses. In-patients said they watched helplessly as their colleagues died after waiting in vain to be helped. The situation at the hospital is so critical that the management has resolved to close some wards and departments.
The hospital public relations officer Stela Plapan, however denied patients had died as a result of the strike. The Amenity and Casualty department were closed because the skeleton staff can only handle a limited number of patients. The hospital's CEO John Kibosia said the hospital was only handling emergency cases.
Kibosia said no patients have been turned away, "but the strike has extensively affected the hospital's service delivery." The more than 1,500 doctors and nurses at the hospital downed their tools last week demanding the implementation of the agreement which seeks to improve their salaries and fringe benefits.
The secretary of the hospital's Nurses Union Sammy Cheserek said the nurses will stay away from the hospital until their demands for "better terms and conditions are met."
Cheserek said the nurses, "will not resume work, although we are open to dialogue over issues that we raised, including implementation of an earlier agreement we had signed with the hospital." He said nurses should be paid increased house and extraneous allowances.
A large number of patients have left the hospital because doctors, nurses and the subordinate had failed to report to work for the sixth day running. Kibosia said some consultants have been called to help in treating in-patients. But most wards remained deserted, as senior nurses said they have been overwhelmed.
The secretary of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union, Mogaka Mogeni said the strike is "unstoppable unless the government agrees to better the terms of the medical staff countrywide."
Apart from improved terms and conditions of service, the striking workers also want the government to give the hospital Sh1.3 billion to equip the hospital. The medical staff has been saying the hospital's facilities are inadequate and do not match the operations of a big hospital such as Moi Referral.
The government pledged to provide the money but so far there has been no communication on the matter. He was with chairman of the Kenya National Union of Nurses Jophinus Musundi. Most patients have also stopped seeking medical devices at the hospital and opted for private hospitals or other government hospitals in the area.
However, services at the near by Uasin Gishu district hospital went on smoothly although nurses at the facility have also threatened to join their striking colleagues.