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KNH doctors still on strike despite pact

By Jeckonia Otieno | Published Sat, March 18th 2017 at 10:40, Updated March 18th 2017 at 10:47 GMT +3
KNH Chief Executive Officer, Lily Koros

Kenyans will have to wait a little longer to access services of doctors from Kenya’s top referral health facility.

Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) remained technically non-functional yesterday as medical practitioners stayed away.

The doctors instead held a meeting and resolved not to report back to work even as the hospital insisted 12 doctors who had been sacked had been reinstated. Another 48 who had received show-cause letters also had those letters withdrawn, according to the hospital.

The doctors instead held a meeting with officials of Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) at the hospital and affirmed that they will not go back to work unless the return to work formula was signed by the hospital.

The hospital had a relatively high flow of human traffic even as the entrance teemed with security officers ostensibly stationed to prevent the media from getting a glimpse of what is really happening inside behind the walls. But doctors were defiant that they will not go back to work, with some even calling for resignation or sacking of Chief Executive Officer, Lily Koros.

At the centre of the raging dispute are the recognition agreement and return to work formula, which led to the end of the strike.

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Dr Samuel Oroko, KMPDU’s national chairman maintained that the doctors will not go back to work unless the recognition agreement was signed and registered.

“We agreed to end the strike, yet they want to sack doctors; how does that even work out?” asked Oroko as he urged doctors not to resume duty until the outstanding issues are sorted. Dr Ouma Oluga, the union’s secretary general termed the standoff a show of brinkmanship by the hospital’s administration.

“We do not owe anyone an apology in our fight to have a better healthcare for the public; and we know they are not targeting junior doctors, who are just a smokescreen, but senior doctors at the hospital,” Dr Oluga said.

Ms Koros however insisted that there was no way the return-to-work formula would be signed yet there was no recognition agreement with the doctors union. She acknowledged having received the recognition agreement documents that were dropped in her office on December 12, 2016 after seven days of the strike.

She said that unlike Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) there was no way KNH could sign a recognition agreement yet it had not held any formal discussion. KNH has 264 doctors.

“MTRH signed a recognition agreement with the union in August 2014 and there is no way we can sign a return to work formula without a recognition agreement with KMPDU,” said Koros.

Koros says that the hospital’s board of management met a day after the strike had been called off and deliberated on how to get doctors back to work.

Koros said, “Among the decisions made was for the hospital to start engaging with the union over the recognition agreement; it was also agreed that the doctors who had been dismissed be reinstated even as the board undertakes to follow up on the allowances as agreed in the return to work formula.”

KMPDU’s Deputy Secretary General, Dr Chibanzi Mwachonda, maintained that there was no way KNH, which is the largest referral health facility in East and Central Africa can have problems just like hospitals in the county.