A stalemate that led to a nurses’ strike nearly six months ago over a 2013 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) ended on Thursday.
Earlier, there had been reports that the county governments were reaching out to the nurses to end the impasse. It is commendable that the Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) gave dialogue a chance and seized the opportunity that beckoned.
Many had felt (rightfully) that the sense of urgency to resolve the matter and get the nurses back to the wards had been missing all along, perhaps because of the electioneering period. In fact, street demonstrations and processions by nurses hardly made it to the top of news bulletins. Also, there were attempts to pass off the strike as the governors’ headache.
It is this buck-passing between county and national governments that didn’t make matters any better. The frequent industrial action from the medical fraternity is worrisome. Was it imprudent to devolve health services? Indeed, the nurses went on strike hardly two months after a debilitating doctors’ strike that lasted 100 days (many of such since 2013) ended.
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Just like the case with doctors, the position of this newspaper has been that had the Government showed commitment and willingness to talk to the nurses – and avoided unnecessary threats and remonstration– patients would have been saved the pain and agony.
No doubt, a dysfunctional medical services sector impacts negatively on the economy, especially when workers fall ill and there is nobody to attend to them. Kenyans deserve assurance that were they –or their loved ones– to fall ill, they would receive medical care.