VULNERABLE GROUP

Health union wants state to protect retired specialists in counties

MoH directed to develop protocols to retain retired anesthetists and ICU staff

In Summary

• Earlier, the government had directed that all civil servants of vulnerable age to stay at home.

• The Kenya Union of Clinical Officers observed that anyone who is retiring has attained an age of 55 years and above and that meant they are people who are vulnerable.

Kenya Union of Clinical Officers secretary general George Gibore
Kenya Union of Clinical Officers secretary general George Gibore
Image: COURTESY

A health union wants the government to put in place measures to ensure specialists who are vulnerable to contracting Covid-19 are protected.

This is after President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday directed the Health Ministry to develop protocols to temporarily retain retired anesthetists and ICU staff to support staff assigned to dealing with serious cases in the counties.

The Kenya Union of Clinical Officers on Wednesday observed that anyone who is retiring has attained an age of 55 years and above and that meant they are people who are vulnerable.

 

The exact number of those to be retained cannot however be established at the moment.

Earlier, the government had directed that all civil servants of vulnerable age to stay at home.

“If you want to hold people who are vulnerable to continue offering services is a good thing but you need to come up with a way on how they are going to be protected,”the union's SG George Gibore said.

“We really need their expertise because these are the people who have a good knowledge about what they have been doing and medicine is about experience.”

He noted that even though the number of the specialists that are to be retained is not high, some counties have only 10 or less specialists hence when one retires the whole system is impaired.

The Star has learned that despite the government advertising for the positions of anesthetists, majority of the positions were not able to get the exact number of applicants they wanted.

And those who applied for the jobs and attended interviews are yet to be employed and utilised to date.

 

“We are quick to announce, quick to state what we want and actually very sluggishly adopt the position and implement what we are supposed to be doing,” Gibore said.

The decision to temporarily retain the specialists comes amid rising positive cases in the country with 311 deaths having been recorded.

Most of the Intensive Care Unit beds are full with the government planning to set up an additional 60-bed capacity at the Kenyatta University Teaching and Referral Hospital.

The government has warned that the number of critical cases is likely to go up with increased cases of the virus in the country.

According to Gibore, every critical patient needs very many people to attend to them at all the time supervising their progress while under treatment.

“And as they talk about increasing beds and even facilities they want to be used for isolation and quarantine you wonder because we are still crying foul of under-staffing.”

He noted that retaining the specialists is something that can add value but very decimal, adding that there are things that should be considered that can add value that include hiring of more medics and training healthcare workers in responding to the disease.