Thursday, December 12, 2013

KNH recalls staff from leave as strike bites

Narok Governor Samuel Tunai and Narok county medical director Peter Okoth at the Narok district hospital to assess the patients' situation following the national strike by health workers. By GEORGE SAYAGIE

Narok Governor Samuel Tunai and Narok county medical director Peter Okoth at the Narok district hospital to assess the patients' situation following the national strike by health workers. By GEORGE SAYAGIE  

The country’s largest referral hospital has recalled staff on leave to mitigate the effects of the ongoing national strike by their colleagues in public health facilities.

Kenyatta National Hospital acting chief executive Simeon Monda told the Nation that though their staff is not on strike, they are overwhelmed by the increasing numbers of patients coming from the public hospitals that have since closed.

“We are experiencing a 30 per cent increase in the number of patients at KNH, most of who are in serious conditions and require immediate admission,” Dr Monda told the Nation in an interview Thursday.

We have also reopened three theatres to handle the extra surgeries, including caesarean sections, Dr Monda added.

KNH head of Reproductive Health Department John Ong’ech said the extra theatre was opened to cater for the high number of expectant mothers who required emergency caesarean sections.
“We normally conduct around 20 caesarean sections per day but in the last two days due to the overwhelming numbers, we are conducting around 26 and this has also prompted us to recall our staff who were on annual leave or off duty,” he added.

Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Association secretary general, Sultan Matendechero said that none of the trade unions representing the health workers had received a court order and termed them as 'rumours’ meant to weaken the strike.

(Read: Court stops strike by health workers)
“The government has invested in fear, intimidation and sideshows instead of resolving this crisis so that we can resume work,” Dr Matendechero said in an interview with the Nation Thursday.
“That we have been served with a court order is a rumour that is meant to cause confusion amongst our members so they can resume work and we will not do so,” Dr Matendechero said adding the government had not observed the correct way to serve the court order in case there was any.
The longer we stay on strike, the harder it will be to get out of it, he warned.
During a visit to the referral hospital on Wednesday Heath Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said he was in talks with the administration on how to cope with the swelling numbers of patients in the wake of the national strike by health professional workers.
However, the hospital is set to experience further swell of patients with Dr Monda saying by the third or fourth day of the strike, the hospital will be fully stretched on both human and medical resources.
The Ministry of Health promised to assist the hospital financially to cope with the influx of patients at the hospital as the resources had been stretched by the ongoing strike.

However Dr Monda expressed fear that the hospital could not handle the surge of patients if the strike continues.

“We will collect over one million signatures to call for the establishment of the Health Service Commission that will protect us and look after our needs in our various cadres,” The told the Nation in an interview Thursday.
“We have provided the avenues for discussion but the government is not willing to settle on any of our negotiations,” KMPDU official Matendechero saying adding the health workers were not irresponsible and heartless to allow the suffering of patients in the public health facilities.
“We presented reasonable demands that the government has ignored since we presented them eight months ago and were ignored until we opted to go on strike as a last resort,” Dr Matendechero added.
The Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union, the Kenya Health Professionals Union (KHPU), the Kenya National Union of Nurses and the Union of Kenya Clinical Officers (UKCO) said they were disappointed for being labelled 'saboteurs of devolution’ yet they were calling for a systematic way to address the management of health workers.
The Ministry of Health had affirmed that it would concurrently develop the health policy and legislation on the health sector along the same timeline as that provided for the Public Service Commission.
The government also dismissed the proposed establishment of the Health Service Commission terming it as 'unconstitutional’ adding that it could not be done discussed as it violates Article 234 of the Constitution.

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