Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) emergency wing is emerging as the biggest casualty in the referral facility’s decision to do away with temporary doctors and nurses.
The hospital has from the beginning of this year done away with stand-in staff (locum programmes) meant to plug shortages and instead offered six-month contracts to doctors and nurses.
That, however, has proven difficult after the majority of the nurses turned down the jobs.
Under the six-month contract, nurses were entitled to a consolidated remuneration of Sh50,000 per month while medical officers would get Sh120,000.
This comes as nurses who are under the Health ministry joined their colleagues hired by counties in strike, making worse the patients’ pain at facilities like Mathari Hospital, the spinal injury hospital, the blood bank, and airport.
Director of clinical service at KNH Peter Masinde who confirmed the scrapping of locums said that it was not in their statute of labour laws.
“We want to phase out locums and instead get money to employ optimum staff after we get approval by the Treasury and the Ministry of Health,” he said
He denied a shortage of nurses or other staff, saying they offered the contracts to 393 nurses and 51 doctors at the beginning of this month.
The Kenya National Union of Nurses secretary-general Seth Panyako, however, said the pay offered to the nurses was low, adding it was their right to decline the offer.
“You cannot do the same work as your colleague and agree to be paid almost half of what the rest are paid. I urge them to be patient until we have signed that recognition agreement which will open a window for meaningful engagement,” he said.
Nurses have gone on strike demanding to be paid new allowances for services and uniforms.
They signed the better-pay agreement on November 2, 2017.
According to Mr Panyako, the deal is being frustrated by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission that is playing “cat and mouse games”.