Patients continued to suffer on Sunday as nurses in Homa Bay public hospitals boycotted work for the fourth day.
Many went back home while those who could afford sought services in private hospitals.
“We have been here for hours and no one has attended to us. That is why I have decided to go back home. I will seek financial help from family and friends so I can be treated in a private hospital,” said Jane Akinyi at the Kisumu county referral hospital.
The nurses went on strike on Thursday last week to press for promotions. The Kenya National Union of Nurses branch secretary, Mr George Bola, who spoke in Homa Bay town, said nurses’ calls on the county government to promote them have fallen on deaf ears.
“A number of nurses have been stuck in the same job group for many years. This is unacceptable and unless the county government meets our demands, we will not go back to work,” said Bola, who was accompanied by branch chairman Samuel Ogalo and trustee Lilian Ogutu.
“Some of our members have stagnated in the same job group for up to seven years. We will not allow this because we want to be treated like other government employees,” said Bola.
He also said the failure by the county government to remit nurses’ statutory deductions to banks to pay loans, the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), and other institutions was a major concern.
“As a result of this, our members have defaulted on NHIF monthly contributions as well as the loans we have taken from banks,” said Bola.
He added: “It is unfortunate that the money is deducted from our salaries but is not remitted to the respective institutions and as a result, all nurses in this county are considered defaulters by these institutions.”
Ogalo accused the county government of denying some nurses risk allowance even though it is provided for in their terms of service.
The union is also pushing to have some nurses given permanent and pensionable terms of employment.
The nurses are demanding a better working environment. They want both the county and national governments to allocate more money to the health sector to enable hospitals acquire better equipment to enhance delivery of services.
“We are also demanding the full implementation of the May 2014 Revised Scheme of Service for Nurses, which should include the establishment of a county directorate of nursing services,” said Ms Ogutu.
The union also wants an additional 500 nurses employed and deployed to all health facilities in the county to address shortages.
The officials said their attempts to engage the county failed because some government officials are not committed to resolving the issues.
The doctors’ strike continued to bite following a deadlock between their union and the national and county governments.
The doctors, who have been on strike for three months, have vowed not to return to work until their grievances are addressed.