Patients seeking surgical services at Nyeri Referral Hospital are being turned away as the facility shuts their main theatre over a shortage of nurses.
According to the Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) secretary Beatrice Nduati, the hospital should have six to 10 nurses serving the three theatres but currently, there is only one or two nurses available in the main theatre.
Ms Nduati said there has been a shortage of nurses since the inception of devolution in 2013 as the county has never recruited or replaced those who have left.
Records show that 400 nurses who retired or died have never been replaced.
"The county has failed us. There has been no single nurse promoted or hired since devolution and no explanation has been advanced to us over the delays," she said.
The nurses blamed the prolonged standoff between the devolved unit and the County Public Service Board for the delays in their promotions that were due last year.
They said a suit filed in court by four board members who sued the late governor Nderitu Gachagua for reviewing their contracts and appointing Mr Eliud Mureithi as acting board chairman has derailed their contracts, transfers and job resignations.
“Our plea for better working conditions and promotions have been ignored as a result of the case. It is high time the matter was put to an end,” said Ms Nduati.
She said they had called on the County executive and the Board to end their wrangles for the sake of the welfare of the workers but none of the two factions were willing to compromise.
"No one is ready to compromise. We have opened fronts for negotiations between the county and the Public Service Board but none is heeding to our pleas,” said Ms Nduati.
The nurses have issued a notice to strike in the next two weeks to protest delayed promotions.
“We have been made to suffer because we have no where we can take our labour complaints when our employer, County Public Service Board is not in office. Our promotions were due last year but we were denied,” lamented Joseph Kihunyo, a worker at the referral hospital.
The medical superintendent Silas Njoroge said the hospital had not shut down but was only performing minor surgeries but admitting there was a shortage of nurses.
He further referred this writer to the County Executive for Health Charles Githinji and the County director for health Nelson Mureu but efforts to reach them were futile as they never responded to inquiries and phone calls.