Go slow at Kenyan hospital over pay

June 11, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 11- A standoff between the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) management and nurses over better overtime allowances has halted the running of 12 theatres, according to a union official.

Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotel, Educational Institutions, Hospitals, and Allied Workers (KUDHEIHA) Spokesperson Seth Panyako told Capital News on Friday that the hospital management had refused to address the nurses’ grievances leading to the one-month standoff.

Mr Panyako said that out of the 18 theatres in the hospital, only six were functioning normally as nurses went on a go-slow.

“The impact is enormous; we have patients who have traveled from far because Kenyatta happens to be the only government hospital in Kenya offering pediatric surgery and when we have patients coming all the way from Mombasa and they are turned back that is very disappointing,” he said.

“Kenyatta operates 18 theatres and only six are working. Does it mean that these other 12 theatres are not supposed to be there?” he posed.

He called on the hospital management to employ more workers if they cannot improve the overtime terms.

“These are people (nurses) who have withdrawn essential services that they have been delivering to patients. A committee was formed in 2008 by the Chief Executive Officer and it came up with a report which we want implemented,” he said

The union official also called on the Kenya Anti corruption Commission to move in and investigate cases of corruption reported at the hospital.

Mr Panyako said allegations of corruption in employment and promotions had entirely demotivated the staff leading to low productivity.

He said that some staff were also being asked for sexual favours in exchange for promotions and went ahead to show Capital News a letter of complaint written in April by one of the workers to the hospital management.

“People are employed based on how much they pay and some are paying up to Sh100, 000,” he claimed.

“We recently had 36 support staff hired in the hospital and they all paid for it. In fact two of them who paid to be employed sued the people whom they paid because the jobs they got are not what they wanted,” the union official said.

“If you buy a job will you take it seriously? You bought it after all!”

He suggested that the hiring of employees at the hospital be done by a reputable firm under the supervision of the Ministry of Medical Services because they no longer had confidence with the hiring authority at the Kenyatta hospital.

“I will give you an example; we recently had five vacant positions of assistant chief nurse, they were advertised and out of the five, four were given to one ethnic community and we cannot allow this. There is even no respect to gender, like the top management in Kenyatta are all men and a department like nursing the top management is 100 percent female,” he said.

He at the same time called on President Mwai Kibaki to speedily appoint a chairman to the Board of Management to ensure proper running of the hospital.

He said the board had not been properly constituted for the last six months since the previous one was dissolved in December last year.

He told Capital News that five officers had been appointed by the Minister of Medical Services but they cannot function well without a chairperson.

“There is no accounting management because the board is the accounting body on behalf of the government and if the appointing authority in this case the President and Prime Minister do not speed up, then they are doing an injustice to Kenyans,” he said. 

The union official also called for the investigation of the University Of Nairobi School Of Nursing saying there was massive irregularity in the issuance of certificates.

“We want an investigation from the Ministry of higher education because we understand the School of Nursing is the main absorbent of these people with fake degrees, Masters and PhD’s,” he claimed.

Medical Services Permanent Secretary Professor James ole Kiyiapi made an impromptu visit to the hospital last week and promised to reform it in three months.

But the Chief Public Relations Officer Simon Ithai said the hospital was running as usual despite the standoff. The Acting Chief Executive Officer Dr Charles Kabetu was said to be in a meeting at Afya house with Professor Kiyiapi.


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