Doctors being overworked in county, says union official

Susan Akinyi is helped by a nurse after delivery at Margaret Kenyatta Mother Baby Wing at Nakuru Level Five Hospital. [File, Standard]
A union has complained that doctors are being overworked in the county due to shortage of medics.

Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Union (KMPDU) South Rift official Devji Atellah said doctors were not going on leave while some work without rest due to shortage of the medic in health facilities in Nakuru and Naivasha towns.

Dr Atellah said more than 100 doctors have resigned in the last two years, with about 60 having gone back for studies to specialise in various fields.

The Nakuru Level Five Hospital, with new oncology, renal and heart departments is only manned by 20 doctors, a number he said is low.

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“Quality of service delivery will be affected since we are not having adequate human resource,” he said.

According to Dr Atellah, at least 200 doctors should be employed in a span of three years to bridge the gap.

“There are doctors who have never gone for leave simply because there is nobody to serve patients in various facilities,” he said.

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Doctors interviewed at the Naivasha Sub-county Hospital revealed they had high workload and were unable to discuss treatment options with patients.

A doctor at the hospital who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being victimised told The Standard he sometimes orders unnecessary tests because he does not have enough time to examine patients.

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The hospital set to be upgraded to Level Five has six doctors.

Another doctor at the Nakuru Level Five Hospital, also referred to as the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital, said he had not taken leave in the last two years.

The medic said due to the acute shortage, medics work for more than 168 hours per week against World Health Organisation recommendation of 40 hours.

“We only take two days off in a month, an issue that affects quality work. Doctors report at 8am and leave as late as 8pm,” he said.

According to the doctor, the most affected department at the level five facility is the Margaret Kenyatta Baby Wing.

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The wing, he said, has only five doctors serving four wards, two theaters and a clinic.

Mothers due for delivery are examined by doctors, with nurses handling normal deliveries.

“Work load at the facility is too much. For example, you are expected to be in ward, observe patients and too conduct operation at the theater,” said the doctor.

The facility records about 50 deliveries a day.

The hospital in charge Joseph Mburu said service delivery has not been affected, apart from annual leave and off days.

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Dr Mburu said there are 20 doctors at the level five facility, while 20 others are on study leave.

Health Executive Kariuki Gichuki downplayed claims that there was shortage of doctors.

Dr Gichuki said there are plans to employ more medics to provide quality services.

“Individuals who have gone on studies are still our employees and we are working on mechanisms of employing more medics,” said Gichuki.

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KMPDUNaivasha Sub-county HospitalNakuru Level Five HospitalRift Valley Provincial General HospitalMargaret Kenyatta Baby WingHealth Executive Kariuki Gichuki