KENYA: Gloomy festivities beckon as nurses, clinical officers threaten to go on strike

November 2018 TheStar; The December festive season may kick off on a low note as nurses and clinical officers threaten to go on strike over labour issues.

The nurses’ union has issued a 21-day strike notice over non-payment of service and uniform allowances while the clinical officers are in protest of NHIF policies, which they say limit their scope of service provision.

On Monday, Kenya Union of Nurses secretary general Seth Panyako issued a strike notice to the Ministry of Health and county governments. He said the strike will start on December 10 if the return-to-work formula signed in November last year is not implemented by December 9.

“We have made several attempts through correspondence to your offices, including requesting a meeting, but to date nothing tangible has been forthcoming,” Panyako said.

In the return-to-work formula signed on November 2, 2017, the national and county governments agreed to increase the nurses’ service allowance by Sh10,000 in three phases.

They were to get an increase of Sh3,000 in the 2018-19 financial year, Sh3,500 in the 2019-20 financial year and Sh3,500 in 2020-21.

Once fully implemented, the nurses’ service allowance will be Sh30,000, up from the current Sh20,000.

The deal also assured them of a Sh5,000 raise on their annual uniform allowance, which was to take effect in July.

“Note that if after the 21 days the same shall not have been implemented, all our members in the county governments and national referral facilities shall go on strike,” Panyako said.

On the other hand, clinical officers want the NHIF board to amend its policies and remove restrictions for them to conduct diagnostic imaging on patients.

They also want to be allowed to pre-authorise procedures for patients and for hospitals registered under by the Clinical Officers Council to be listed among facilities that offer NHIF services.

The Kenya Union of Clinical Officers general secretary George Maroah said the policies have impacted negatively on the provision of quality health care services..

“Our members’ pleas have not been heard for more than a year, now leading to discrimination of our members and subsequent suffering of patients who are NHIF accredited,” Maroah said.

He said by virtue of the signing of the Clinical Officers Act 2017 into law, Clinical Officers Council is mandated to license facilities owned by clinical officers and the same to be accredited to offer NHIF services.

Maroah said restricting clinical officers from offering services to certain patients is against Article 41 of the Constitution.

If the two entities hold true to their threats to strike, the country will be treated to yet another sorry state in public hospitals like was the case last year when a strike paralysed operations resulting in deaths of patients.

 

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