Staff strikes hit hospitals in Embu and Tharaka-Nithi

They are demanding promotion, remittance of statutory deductions, payment of delayed salaries, reinstatement of those struck off county’s payroll for allegedly being ghost workers and general improvement of working conditions.

Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) Tharaka-Nithi branch secretary Antony Tatu on Monday said the county government had failed to act on their two-week strike notice.

Health services in public hospitals in Embu and Tharaka-Nithi counties remained crippled as medics continued with their strike.

Doctors in Tharaka-Nithi on Monday boycotted work, joining hundreds of nurses who have kept off their work stations for the three weeks.

STRIKE NOTICE

“We had given the county government two weeks to address our grievances and because they completely ignored us, we have no other option but boycotting duty,”

said Dr Tatu.

“We have no further business in Tharaka-Nithi county hospitals until all the grievances are addressed.”

A spot-check by Nation.co.ke showed that all public hospitals remained closed despite Governor Samuel Ragwa’s threats to the striking nurses.

Mr Ragwa argued that all the demands by the nurses had been met but Kenya National Union of Nurses branch chairman Fabian Marigu denied that claim.

TALKS COLLAPSED

Chogoria Mission Hospital and St Orsola Catholic Mission Hospital were overstretched as the number of patients continued to increase.

In Embu, talks between doctors and county officials have collapsed.

Health Executive Pauline Njagi had called a meeting late Friday seeking one more month to sort out the demands by the local KMPDU branch officials.

She said the county government had already advertised for six doctors’ posts but had received inadequate response and were still trying to woo more.

Ms Njagi said they had started addressing the issue of promotions and would be done by the end of the month.

PLAYING POLITICS

However, KMPDU Upper Eastern scretary-general Mark Ndung’u on Monday accused Ms Njagi of playing politics with the issue, saying they had struck a deal that would have seen the process completed by end of October.

“They are taking these matters very casually. We had already given them 90 days to finalise the promotions and the employment of more doctors,” he said.

“Giving appointment letters doesn’t take a month. There is a lot of political interference in the process.”

The doctors have been demanding for promotions after stagnating in the same job-groups for more than four years.

They are also calling for recruitment of additional medical personnel to address the heavy work load.

TURNED AWAY

Many residents continued to withdraw patients from public hospitals and admitting them to private hospitals or public hospitals in neighbouring counties.

Out-patients seeking to see doctors were turned away.

Tenri Children’s Hospital director Jim Njamiu said they had recorded a sharp rise in patients seeking medical attention after missing services at public hospitals.

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