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Why your doctor could skip hospital

BUSIA
By | March 25th 2010

By Elizabeth Mwai

The health sector is in a crisis with the Government owing medical personnel millions of shillings in salary arrears.

Staff in major medical institutions is pressing the Government to settle Sh350 million in salary arrears.

Last week, Kenyatta National Hospital, the largest referral hospital in the region, was paralysed after 3,000 unionisable staff stopped work for five hours in protest at the delayed payment.

Other medical institutions facing the strike threat include Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret, Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC) and Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa), whose workers are owed by the Government.

A letter by Medical Services PS James ole Kiyipai says Moi Referral is owed Sh106 million, KMTC Sh73 million and Kemsa Sh72 million.

"The ministry requires more than 350 million to avert a replica at the Kenyatta National Hospital staff strike in other hospitals across the country," the letter reads partly.

The money is needed to address salary issues and other matters touching on staff welfare.

Hours after the staff had gone on strike the ministry released Sh29 million of the Sh98 million owed, promising to offset the arrears in a month.

Be patient

Yesterday, Prof Kiyiapi urged the personnel in the other institutions to be patient as the ministry seeks more funds to clear the arrears.

He assured all arrears accrued from the previous collective bargaining agreement would be settled before the end of this financial year.

The PS was also optimistic that Treasury would provide funds to settle the arrears in the awaited supplementary budget.

However, the unionaisable staff at KNH has given the ministry up to April 15 to clear the remaining 70 per cent of their arrears.

They say it is nearly two years since the pay was awarded and accused the ministry of praying cat and mouse games with them.

The CBA deal was negotiated and agreed upon in 2008.

The strike at KNH caught many patients unawares who were forced to return home unattended. In the confusion, there were unconfirmed claims that three people died due to lack of care.

But the hospital CEO Jotham Micheni, who did not deny or confirm the incident, said the Accident and Emergency Unit had remained opened.

He said some patients were treated without paying, a claim a number of angry patients who had been turned away, refuted.

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