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Kenya

Clinical officers call off Friday strike after deal with NHIF

The union issued a 14-day ultimatum to NHIF on November 18 over regulations it said required clinical officers to seek approvals from medical officers before billing patients for services within their purview/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 30 – The Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO) has called off a nationwide strike set to kick Friday after the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) agreed to review accreditation procedures which hindered clinicians from offering services to NHIF-registered patients.

In a statement released on Thursday, the KUCO said it had reached an agreement with NHIF to provide a list of its gazetted members and institutions managed by clinical officers for review.

“NHIF in line with its strategic intent on stakeholder engagement has held meetings which have resulted into amicable solutions to the concerns of KUCO and resolved to review the provisions that limit clinical officers from discharging services to NHIF beneficiaries,” the union indicated.

The union issued a 14-day ultimatum to NHIF on November 18 over regulations it said required clinical officers to seek approvals from medical officers before billing patients for services within their purview.

KUCO Chairperson, Peterson Wachira, had faulted the NHIF for failing to accredit clinical officers terming regulations by the agency unlawful.

He decried what he described as efforts to undermine duly qualified clinical officers by individuals within the health insurance agency hell-bent to misappropriate resources allocated for healthcare provision.

“The NHIF has unilaterally decided to limit us to offer services to NHIF-accredited patients something that is contrary to any law. They have adopted a skewed accreditation system that keeps medical costs high,” Wachira argued.

While issuing the strike ultimatum, KUCO Secretary General George Gibore said clinical officers had over time been forced to seek approvals from medical officers before authorizing billing of NHIF-registered patients for medical procedures within their purview.

“If I want to do any scan for any patient, I have to find a medical officer to give me their registration number yet they will not come to interpret the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan,” he said.

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“Within 14 days if NHIF fails to make a clear statement and recall all the forms they have provided that limit clinical officers, we will stop offering services to any patient that is NHIF-accredited in all facilities and we’ll be campaign at the NHIF offices,” Gibore had warned.

According to KUCO, over 70 per cent of services provided in health centres are facilitated by clinical officers, the union expressing disapproval with the Ministry of Health over what it said was a deliberate attempt to sideline clinical officers in the rollout of universal healthcare.

Gibore singled out county governments for deliberately excluding clinical officers in hospital management teams a move he said served to suppress their voice.

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