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New threat by doctors after deal disregarded

Doctors have threatened to disrupt medical services if the government does not pay their dues.

The doctors had issued an ultimatum (which ended on Monday) to the government to withdraw its communication to county governments that those who participated in the strike should not to be paid for the days they were away.

But instead, the medical workers union says that their request has fallen on deaf ears as the government plays hard ball.

There has been an exchange between the health workers and their employers, with each side feeling there was misunderstanding and blatant disregard of the definition of terms in the return-to-work formula.

One of the Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) members said that doctors were not pleased with how the government retracted on the agreement signed last month.

According to the source, the parties involved in the negotiations committed to paying the healthcare workers their three-month salaries and arrears.

ACCUMULATED SALARIES

Arguing that the Health ministry’s directive against payment was based on a position agreed upon by both doctors and the two levels of government, county health executives forum chairman Andrew Mulwa maintained that payment of doctors’ accumulated salaries of about Sh3.2 billion was unjustifiable and could not be honoured.

Dr Mulwa further said that any county government that defies the directive would be surcharged by the auditor-general.

Counties have maintained they will not pay doctors who participated in the 100-day strike. To further complicate matters for the doctors, the county governments also said they will not pay 14 days of March salaries for those who had gone on strike.

Making matters worse, some counties have declined to honour the return to work formula, with doctors from sections of the country citing bullying by their bosses in the counties.

A doctors’ union member who sought anonymity said that they are frustrated about the engagements with the county bosses and health management teams.

Arguing that the Health ministry’s directive against payment was based on a position agreed upon by both doctors and the two levels of government, County Health Executives Forum chair Andrew Mulwa maintained payment of doctors’ accumulated salaries of about Sh3.2 billion was unjustifiable and could not be honoured.

DEFY DIRECTIVE

Dr Mulwa further said that any county government that would defy this directive would be surcharged by the auditor general.

“Unless they [doctors] gather political momentum to gain some goodwill like what happened in the case of teachers, nobody will pay them,” he added.

But our source maintained that the letter written to the Council of Governors chairman Peter Munya on March 17 — three days after the strike ended — asking them not to release salaries for work not done was in bad faith.

The letter written by the former Health Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri who has since been moved to the Lands ministry directed the county bosses to pay doctors who participated in the strike the new allowances “with effect from the date they report on duty” while those who worked throughout would get the allowances with effect from January 1.

“The letter halted the process of paying doctors which the counties had already begun, a move that undermined the return to work formula we had signed,” the source added.

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