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Pumwani maternity hit by go slow

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 16 – Normal operations at the Pumwani Maternity Hospital have resumed after nurses entered into a formal agreement with the management following a daylong go-low.

The nurses had downed their tools accusing the management of withholding their uniform and practising allowances, meagre risk allowance and alleged harassment by the Medical Officer of Health.

Led by the Kenya Local Government Workers Union (KLGWU), they also claimed that the management had illegally sold land belonging to the council where the doctors\’ houses have been erected to a private developer.

They issued a seven days notice to have the land issue resolved failure to which they would once again go on strike.

"We have agreed that the uniform allowance which is in arrears will be paid at the end of this month while that of this year will be paid in the next financial year," KLGWU General Secretary Festus Ngare told the striking nurses after a five hours crisis meeting with the Medical Officer of Health.

The nurses are entitled to a Sh13, 000 annual uniform allowances which they had not received for the past two years and a practising allowance of Sh5, 000 per month had been approved last September but they were yet to start receiving it.

They accused the Medical Officer of Health Dr Robert Ayisi of sabotaging the payments. They claimed that Dr Ayisi said they were not entitled to the practising allowance because they were not professionals.

"For the non practising allowance we are going to write a letter to the Town Clerk and Human Resource office and if they don\’t respond in seven days we are going to down our tools again," he added.

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They further wanted the current risk allowance of Sh1,000 raised to Sh4,000.

However, Dr Ayisi denied all the allegations against him.

"When I come here I always talk very well with my nurses and these nurses you see here are grassroot nurses (low cadre). When I come from City Hall, I hold meetings with the in charges, I have never addressed these nurses," Dr Ayisi said in his defence.

Operations at the hospital which is the biggest maternity hospital in Nairobi had ground to a near halt.

"We are not attending to any patients coming in now. The ones that are being attended to are only those in the wards, we have some nurses on the ground," said one of the nurses.

Another said: "I am alone in the ward where I have about 96 patients to attend to."

The nurses also complained about a dire shortage of the medical staff including doctors.

"We sometimes work double shift because we are few. In a four hour shift, a nurse can midwife 10 mothers without any assistance," complained another.

The nurses who spoke to Capital News sought anonymity for fear of victimisation.

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According to the Medical Officer of Health there were only 180 nurses and 10 doctors in the whole hospital.

He said that they needed an extra 100 nurses and 30 doctors to function well adding that they would place a request to the Ministry of Medical Services.

They said the hospital is run by the City Council of Nairobi lacks drugs and critical gear like gloves.

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