, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 20 – Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) health workers have now called off their strike after an assurance from the government that their pay demands will be met.
The nurses, who had spent their entire Thursday morning camping outside the hospital, had initially declined to obey their union’ officials’ directive maintaining that their leaders had been compromised.
They accused officials of the Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational Institutions and Hospital Workers (KUDHEIHA) of being paid to call off the strike before they eventually decided to resume their duties.
“How can they decide to call off the strike before asking us? We will not go back to work,” they vowed while chanting anti KUDHEIHA songs.
Patients at the hospital had a difficult time getting treatment in the morning hours and an undercover visit to the wards revealed that they were unattended.
Overfilled dustbins dotted the hallways as skeleton staff tried to attend to the patients.
A man who had brought his elderly mother to the hospital all the way from Magadi had to wait for more than two hours just to get a wheel chair to transfer her from the vehicle.
Other patients resorted to carrying their own after realising that there was no help forthcoming.
“No one wants to help us. I have tried to get assistance but so far no help has come our way. And our patient can’t walk so I don’t know what else to do,” he said.
During the strike that started on Wednesday, hundreds of patients remained unattended at the hospital, with the casualty and inpatient wings being the worst affected.
Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia had on Wednesday night pledged that the government would ensure full implementation of the Comprehensive Bargaining Agreement from next month.
“I further call upon all the staff to fully cooperate to alleviate the suffering of the patients. I take this opportunity to thank all those members of Kenyatta National Hospital staff who have continued to offer services during this period of industrial action,” he said.
The National Nurses Association of Kenya also castigated the government for the slow response noting that the Comprehensive Bargaining Agreement had been signed four years ago.
Doctors and nurses have however threatened to go on strike in July, if the government makes good its plan to devolve health workers without coming up with a proper structure.
The Nurses Association and the Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union have accused the government of devolving health without clarifying how they will be paid at the County level.