• A meeting to hasten the signing of the return-to-work formula failed to take place on Monday.
• Patients who cannot afford care in private hospitals continue to suffer at home.
Patients in the country will continue to bear the brunt of the healthcare workers’ strike after the two levels of government failed to meet over the issue on Monday.
The meeting was to hasten the signing of the return-to-work formula agreed upon during conciliatory talks between the healthcare unions and the multi-agency committee.
Patients who cannot afford care in private hospitals continue to suffer at home. Healthcare workers stayed away from work for the 36th day on Tuesday.
Speaking in Nairobi on Monday, the nurses’ union renewed its plans to withdraw services at the two main national referral hospitals – the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital and Kenyatta National Hospital.
The union had threatened to do so last month but shelved the plan after negotiations began, with the hope that a lasting solution would be found.
However, the union now says the nurses in the two referral hospitals are being overworked, a situation that is likely to compromise quality of services.
“Remember when there is a standoff facilities are being overworked and the services that they used to provide, in terms of quality, they cannot continue providing the same because there is a lot of workload occasioned by the strike,” acting KNUN national chairman Joseph Ngwasi said.
"It is their right to protest to the government so they can resolve this issue and bring health services to normalcy. So if their input will have a solution to this strike, then we will have no other option other than calling them to join the strike.”
The nurses have been on strike demanding, among others, quality personal protective equipment, risk allowance for the frontline workers, comprehensive medical insurance cover and payment of salary arrears.
Reports indicate that some counties hare yet to pay their nurses for 16 months, with others like Mombasa yet to pay the November and December salaries.
“We have nurses who have not received their salaries for 16 months. One of those counties is Vihiga, which, after failing to pay salaries to the contracted nurses for 18 months, only paid for two months and only to a bunch of nurses, leaving around 39 of them out,” KNUN deputy secretary general Maurice Opetu said.
The nurses hit out at the Council of Governors over what they termed neglect of healthcare workers, a situation that has exposed Kenyans to more suffering.
Clinical officers struck for the second time last week after the council failed to sign the agreement reached on January 1 by the multi-agency committee.
“We advise our members to stay put until such a time that the government, especially the CoG, will see it fit for them to come and sign the return-to-work agreement with us because they were fully engaged and represented in the negotiations.”
Lab technologists also joined the strike last week over similar grievances and have yet to go back as the healthcare sector remains paralysed.