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Striking Kenya doctors to be sacked as allowance offer withdrawn

President Uhuru Kenyatta, Council of Governors Chairman Peter Munya and Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu flanked by governors in Naivasha yesterday. [PHOTO: BEVERLYNE MUSILI]

The Government has ordered all doctors to resume work and threatened to sack those who fail to heed the call.

At the same time, the Sh600 million risk allowance awarded to the doctors has been withdrawn.

The risk allowance which was to be backdated to July last year, was offered on Monday night when the faith-based organisations leading the mediation talks pleaded with President Uhuru Kenyatta to up the deal, according to inside sources.

However, the union officials rejected the latest gesture that provoked the Government’s latest reaction even after the medics kept President Kenyatta and some governors at Statehouse, in a meeting that extended into the wee hours of the night.

President Kenyatta and all the 47 governors yesterday met at the sidelines of the ongoing Devolution Conference in Naivasha, Nakuru County, to crack the whip on union officials and their members whose actions have crippled the health sector.

The President chaired a mini Extra-Ordinary Summit that agreed on a raft of measures to deal with the medics who have rejected every offer for the last three months, despite the courts declaring their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) illegal.

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The meeting took place after the visibly angry President accused doctors of blackmail and threatened to take action on them.

The recommendations made include the disbandment of Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union and the Health ministry taking over the registration from the doctors’ body.

“Services must resume in government health facilities. Our efforts to talk with doctors to call off the strike and ensure Kenyans access to healthcare resumes have seemingly been in vain,” the President Kenyatta said as he invited Council of Governors (CoG) chairman Governor Peter Munya (Meru) to read a statement.

Mr Munya then read the joint communiqué, outlining the four key resolutions of the summit, which resulted in the immediate withdrawal of the 50 per cent salary increment and the Sh600 million offered on Monday night as risk allowance.

This, therefore, means the doctors who are on duty and those who will immediately resume work will only benefit from the Government’s 40 per cent deal offered at Statehouse, Mombasa on New Year.

The CoG chair also indicated that both the national and county governments have begun disciplinary action against medics who defy the directive to resume duty immediately.

“The national and county governments and all the other employers in the public health sector to conclude disciplinary process being undertaken against staff absconding duty in order to facilitate filling of vacancies that may be left out as a result of the disciplinary action,” he said.

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Munya said the police has been instructed to provide adequate security to personnel who have not gone on strike and those who will resume duty.

“Doctors who have and continue being on duty will receive the Government’s offer of new allowance with effect from January 2017. Those doctors who are on strike and are willing to return to work are expected to resume duty at their respective duty stations with immediate effect,” he said.

Also, all postgraduate medical students (registrars), who are sponsored by the Government, have been instructed to report to work immediately while interns too are expected to complete their internship for them to be registered by the board.

The Government also resolved to review existing laws with a view to revert the registration of medics from the medical board and how to sideline the union.

“Subject to existing laws, the government shall immediately review the registration and certification procedures for medical practitioners and the role of KMPDU in that process with the view of reverting the function back to the Ministry of Health,” said Munya.

Sources privy to the deliberations indicated yesterday that the State was seeking to control the process of registration after it become practically impossible to hire new doctors including foreigners due to the current legal regime which gives medics influential role in the exercise.

“You know, these doctors control the process of registering medics and whenever we try to hire new ones, we realise they set some standards and exams which make it difficult to hire foreigners,” said one of the governors involved in the talks.

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Governors Jack Ranguma (Kisumu), who is also the CoG Health Committee chairman, and Ken Lusaka (Bungoma) were in agreement on the doctors’ hardline stance.

“The doctors are opposed to every offer presented. Now we have withdrawn what we gave them on Monday. Those who comply will have to do with the earlier offer,” said Ranguma.

Governor Lusaka said the union officials should know they will lose all government privileges, including houses.

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