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Crisis looms after Waiguru sacks casual health workers

Friday April 26 2019

Kirinyaga County health crisis

Dirty linen heaped outside one of the wards at Kerugoya Referral Hospital in Kirinyaga County on April 26, 2019. The sacking of the 346 workers has thrown hospitals in the county into a crisis. PHOTO | GEORGE MUNENE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

GEORGE MUNENE
By GEORGE MUNENE
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The health sector in Kirinyaga has been plunged into a crisis following the sacking of 346 casual workers as the county government seeks to reduce a ballooning wage bill.

The county government said it will save Sh48 million annually which was being paid to the sacked workers.

County Secretary Joe Muriuki said the wage bill was unsustainable and the workers had to go.

But the move has left most hospitals looking filthy as there are no workers to clean them while patients have been left without anyone to serve them food.

PATIENTS SUFFERING

Patients complained of suffering and accused the county government of not addressing their plight.

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The Nation established that there was no one to clean the very sick patients admitted to wards.

"We have been abandoned in the wards without workers to take care of us," one of the patients, Mary Muriuki, said.

Due to lack of workers, the managements of various hospitals are now seeking the services of prisoners who are not enough to handle the challenges facing the crucial sector.

On Thursday, prisoners could be seen cleaning dusty floors at the Kerugoya Hospital while some others like Kimbimbi, Kianyaga and Sagana hospitals remained filthy.

DIRTY LINEN

At Kerugoya Hospital toilets were stinking while dirty linen had been heaped outside the wards as there are no workers to wash them.

Nurses criticised the county government for laying off the workers without consulting them.

"Hospitals cannot function properly without casual workers. If urgent measures are not taken, the sector will soon collapse," said a nurse who declined to be named for fear of victimisation.

The Governor Anne Waiguru administration sent the workers packing without paying them four months’ salary arrears.

PROTESTS

Immediately the workers received their dismissal letters, they started protesting, accusing the county government of being unrealistic.

Mr Muriuki admitted that the workers had not received their dues but promised that they will be paid once the county’s supplementary budget is approved.

The sacked workers wondered how they were expected them to pay school fees for their children.

"Schools will reopen soon and we do not have money to pay fees. The government is inhuman," said Mr James Wachira.

The workers also said that they had established that the county government has not been remitting their deductions to the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF).

"We would like to know where the government has been taking our deductions because they are not reflecting in our NHIF cards," said Mr Wachira.