NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 31 – Doctors have given the government 14 days to implement a return-to-work formula that was signed last December or they will paralyse operations in public hospitals.
The doctors under Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) issued the notice on Friday, saying the government had gone mum on their plight even though it had pledged to settle their grievances.
KMPDU Secretary General Onyino Were said that the recommendations adopted in the formula continue gathering dust as the government failed to honour its end of the bargain.
“We have tried to negotiate with them; we have really been patient. We were even supposed to have a meeting with them on Tuesday but they cancelled it because they don’t want to abide to the spirit of the letter we signed,” said Were.
In the deal that was struck eight months ago bringing an end to a hard hitting doctors’ strike, the government agreed to pay self sponsored medical registrars a Sh92,000 monthly stipend.
Were however accused the government of backtracking saying self sponsored registrars continued working for free.
“Private sponsored registrars are not paid by anyone; they work for free while those sponsored by the government are paid Sh150,000. Part of our agreement was that the government must pay the self sponsored registrars Sh92,000,” he noted.
Were further lashed out at the government for referring the pay concerns to the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.
He argued that the commission had no mandate in determining doctors’ perks and was set up to advice the government on the salaries of those who draw their salaries from the Consolidated Fund.
“It’s clear to note that the ministers for Medical Services and Finance are misinformed as to what the mandate of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission is. It is not there to negotiate with unions; unions are there to negotiate with employers,” he observed.
Medical Services Minister Anyang Nyong’o had on Thursday dismissed the doctors’ argument saying they were ‘strike happy’.
“We are not strike happy. In fact we don’t even enjoy going on strike but the government has not given us any response,” charged Were.
He also said that the doctors would take safety measures once they went on strike to avert the loss of lives.
“We will leave consultants at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) and other public hospitals to attend to the emergency cases so that lives are saved,” he explained.
KMPDU Chairman Victor Ngani further criticised the government for being lax in the fight against corruption in the medical sector.
He noted that the government had allocated Sh200 million for settling post graduate fees but that the money had been misappropriated.
“Corruption must take its filthy hands out of healthcare. We have a letter that shows that someone in Afya House decided to give that money to institutions that don’t have any post graduate doctors,” he alleged.
He also accused the government of taking advantage of the registrars.
“KNH has raised the fees for Caesarean Services from Sh8,000 to Sh30,000 and in one night a self sponsored registrar can do eight to 12 of these surgeries raising between Sh240,000 and Sh360,000 yet they are not paid,” he argued.