Union denies some nurses have returned to hospitals

A group of nurses Sunday disputed claims by governors that a good number of them were at work.

Through advertisements in the local dailies, governors gave a detailed breakdown of the number of nurses currently at work, those who have not yet resumed and those employed on contract.

In it, the table titled “status of nursing staff on duty as at September 25,” governors say that of the 40,540 nurses employed across the 47 counties, 22,021 are currently at work, with the help of 1,075 on contract.

The advertisement also singled out six counties: Bomet, Nandi, Tharaka Nithi, Uasin Gishu, Kitui and Nairobi, where they claimed nurses had not participated in the ongoing nationwide strike.

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In West Pokot, the advert implied that nurses were in talks with their governor. Even so, none of the health workers were at work.

In a county like Homa Bay, the table states: “a total of 675 nurses are employed here. The nurses however are handling emergencies, deliveries and attending to TB and HIV patients.”

“Nursing services are optimal in national referral facilities and near-normal services are ongoing in the counties,” the advert added.

However, nurses, who have been out of work for the last 119 days, quickly opposed the statement, accusing the county bosses of lying to the public.

“How does the Council of Governors publish false information in national media,” asked Kenya National Union of Nurses treasurer Agnes Munderu.

ON STRIKE

Ms Munderu added that contrary to what governors said, all Nairobi nurses were on strike and not at work, and shared pictures of locked sub-county hospital gates.

“All public facilities in Nairobi are closed, starting with Mama Lucy, Mbagathi and even Mutuini in Dagoretti. Just go and visit the facilities yourselves and see,” she added.

Speaking to the Nation on Friday, deputy secretary-general of the union Maurice Opetu said that there had not been any meaningful negotiation between government and the nurses.

“We met the labour commissioner, who had been appointed as a conciliator by the Ministry of Labour early last week where we expected to also meet the ministry and council representatives who did not show up,” he said.

In the same week, Mr Opetu added, the nurses’ representatives were told the strike was illegal without any formal channels of communication.

“We just heard that government had an internal meeting with ministry of Finance, SRC, and CoG, which we were not part of. After the meeting, they said the strike was illegal,” he said, adding that nurses were ready to negotiate.

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