Striking doctors were yesterday offered an enhanced pay package at a meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta, but they sought more time to consider it.
In the proposal, the entry point of doctors was enhanced from Job Group L to M, and salaries raised to Sh196,000, from the current Sh140,244.
However, the doctors did not immediately take up the offer as the officials of Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union asked for more time before giving a conclusive answer on Friday.
It means that the crippling month-long nationwide strike will go on, contrary to expectations that a solution was to be found yesterday.
The President took charge of the high-powered negotiation attended by Cabinet Secretaries Henry Rotich (Treasury), Cleopa Mailu (Health), Salaries and Remuneration Commission chairperson Sarah Serem and the chairperson of the Public Service Commission Margaret Kobia.
The doctors were represented by a seven-member delegation led by chairman Samuel Oroko and secretary-general Ouma Oluga.
The team was also accompanied by a legal representative.
Conspicuously missing from the seven-hour State House Mombasa meeting was the Council of Governors, the direct employer of the doctors as health is a devolved function.
After the closed-door meeting, State House spokesperson Manoah Esipisu said the Government was committed to ensuring equity in the nationwide distribution of doctors; continuous training, and a standard framework of employment across counties – including mechanisms for transfer of doctors and promotions.
Mr Esipisu said to improve the doctors' welfare, the Government offered to raise the entry level grade in the public service for doctors to Job Group M from Job Group L.
"This is higher than the normal entry level for other public servants and recognises doctors' professional training," he said, adding that the Government offered medics Enhanced Emergency Call allowances that include a more than 100 per cent increment for Job Group L (Sh30,000 to Sh66,000).
At the same time, doctors in Job Group M to P will get Sh72,000 from Sh30,000 while those in Job Group Q will take home Sh80,000 from the current Sh30,000.
In addition, the Government also offered a new risk allowance at a flat rate of Sh10,000 a month.
The sum total of the Government's offer means that the minimum gross salary for doctors will increase to Sh196,989 from the current Sh140,244 at full implementation at the current entry Job Group L.
The total impact on the Exchequer will be an additional expenditure of Sh4 billion annually – shared among the nation's 5,000 doctors.
The Government offer will bring the remuneration of doctors in line with the labour market, the State House statement said.
On December 17, 2016 after a meeting with Labour CS Phyllis Kandie, the Government offered the highest paid doctor (Job Group T) between Sh462,000 and Sh572,000 while the lowest paid (intern, Job Group L) was offered between Sh185,000 and Sh196,000.
The same offer would see a medical officer (Job Group M) earn a minimum of Sh209,000 from Sh75,000.
A doctor in Job Group N had been offered a minimum of Sh238,000, Job Group P between Sh284,000-Sh312,000, Job Group Q (Sh315,000-Sh348,000), Job Group R (Sh373,000-Sh421,000), and Job Group S (Sh421,000-Sh532,000).
The doctors' union secretary general said they were committed to a quick resolution of the crisis, and committed to consult with their wider membership before responding to the Government's offer on Friday.
While President Kenyatta was chairing a meeting with the doctors union in Mombasa, the Council of Governors was also holding a parallel meeting at the Ministry of Health in Nairobi chaired by Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko.
CoG Director of Health Benard Adika said they had not received an invitation to the Mombasa meeting and they had actually planned a session yesterday with the doctors' union.
"There is a meeting going on at Afya House chaired by the Director Medical Services. I am not sure if the union officials will attend. As at yesterday (Wednesday), they were still stuck in Mombasa," said Adika.