Consultant doctors’ move to join strike worsens cri**s

Friday, April 5th, 2024 02:45 | By
Doctors demonstrating on Nakuru streets on March 25 to protest against the government’s failure to listen to their demands. PHOTO/Print

Consultant doctors yesterday joined their striking colleagues, further worsening the healthcare situation in the country.

The doctors said they will shut down all services beginning Monday next week including private practice.

Speaking at Kenyatta National Hospital yesterday where the consultants made a commitment to down tools beginning today, Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) Secretary General, Dr Davji Atellah also instructed intern doctors not to pick up their internship letters from the Ministry of Health.

Dr Atellah said that the national government continued to disobey the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), noting that the Sh45,000 to Sh70,000 monthly pay, which the authorities announced a fortnight ago for the intern doctors is not even half of the Sh150,000 monthly net pay the union is demanding. “It’s impunity of the highest order, you cannot purport to have released Sh2.4 billion for the intern doctors yet you have reduced their salaries by 91 per cent. We will not entertain this,” said Dr Atellah.

Head of Public Service Felix Koskei said on Monday that the government had secured Sh2.4 billion to facilitate the immediate deployment and posting of the 2023-24 cohort of medical student interns.

According to Koskei the deployment of intern doctors was expected to kick off yesterday. He called on the union to suspend their strike amid ongoing mediation to resolve the remaining issues.

But Atellah countered that yesterday, saying that the medical interns will not collect the letters adding that doctors must be respected. “We saw that they released some letters purporting to post medical interns.

 That letter is disgusting, it is contemptuous, it is a show of immorality of the government and injustice being perpetrated to the interns,” he said. “It is a basic principle that every element of doctors must be respected, therefore they will not pick those letters. We will wait until the government realises there is a need to honour CBA,”  said Atellah.

 Medical interns

The posting of medical interns was one of the pertinent issues the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Union was pushing for when they went on strike on March 14.

And speaking to the People Daily last evening, KMPDU deputy secretary general, Dr Denis Miskellah said the have successfully secured the consultant doctors’ support, to ground services in all public health facilities. “We are going to shut down all services starting next week, until this government pays its debt to us. Let them pay first,” he said, noting that consultant doctors can’t work without registrars and other medical officers who have since downed their tools.

Consultant doctors are doctors who practice in one of the medical specialities.

The strike is entering its twenty-third day today. “We will escalate the strike from next week to include some of the private hospitals,” said Dr Miskellah.

Most of the consultants are based at KNH, the country’s biggest referral health facility.

“As the strike enters day 22, we have to continue being on strike and we are going to escalate it such that we are going to stop offering private services that were offered before by consultants,” Dr Miskellah said, adding that from next week they will ensure that doctors working in private hospitals see the need to protect the profession.

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