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Mass sackings loom at NHIF as new management takes over

 Staff of NHIF laugh during a meeting with Health CS Susan Nakhumicha on the New Social Health Authority (SHA) in a town hall to provide an update on the new authority at the NHIF headquarters on November 27, 2023. [Bonifaçe Okendo, Standard]

The jobs of current staff at the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) are in limbo after the new authority took over management.

Health CS Susan Nakhumicha said the operation at the Social Health Authority (SHA) will begin afresh, including employment of staff.

Ms Nakhumicha gave SHA chairperson Dr Timothy Olweny an ultimatum of two months to provide proper structures to spearhead the employment process.

She said the structures will determine on whether jobs of the current employees will be guaranteed or not.

“We are starting a fresh instance. As of now, this Social Health Authority (SHA) has a chair and a total of six board members who have a lot of work to do,” said Ms Nakhumicha.

The CS spoke during a meeting with NHIF employees, which brought together the newly inaugurated SHA board, NHIF board and top NHIF management.

“...in the next few months, I expect that you shall give me a structure that will help me to answer many questions regarding whether jobs are guaranteed or not,” said Nakhumicha.

During the meeting where employees raised their fears of their job security, Nakhumicha said the buck stops at SHA board.

“So, it is not up to you we do not want to stay in limbo that very long time. We need to know, 'what is the structure?' and 'what does it look like?' But you know very well that the act has outlined what will happen besides proper structures,” added Nakhumicha.

The employees, she said, will undergo suitability assessment and if they qualify for SHA set structures they will transition.

Second option for the employee is to take early retirement package which will be handled by a team drawn from Ministry of Health, Public Service Commission and NHIF.

The third option for the employee is to have them absorbed to other public sector.

According to Nakhumicha’s position, staff who want to transition to other public service departments will receive same pay they are getting at the NHIF.

Employees had asked if it was okay for them to do so. 

“We are going to do a suitability test. There's some of you who I know at a personal level that are very good at what they do. And therefore, they will meet whatever test it is to move over,” said the CS.

She added, “So for those who we take the option of accepting I'm sure you will want to know what the package is before you take that option.”

“The option of moving over to public service to other places within the government.

For you to continue providing the services that you're providing. That option is available. And for those who may want to move earlier, the option is available,” said the CS.

State Corporation Advisory Committee is expected to work with SHA board chairperson to ensure the structures on employment is well set up.

“NHIF is an institution categorized by SCAC for sure we still don't know under what category and depending on categorization by SCAC it also determines the salary skills. So until that happens, we cannot determine how can we look like for those domains to get that,” added Nakhumicha.

Further, the SHA board will harmonise salaries of current employees at NHIF.

Further, Nakhumicha assured Kenyans of smooth transition from NHIF to share, saying the country has in the past undergone several transition that tuned out to be successful.

She however, warned employees at the fund not to sabotage the transition process. “Do not subotage the process, lest us ensure seamless transition process,” warned Nakhumicha.

“Transition have been there, we should not be worried, things are going to be alright. Just do your bit, and I will do mine”

NHIF CEO Elijah Wachira on his part assured smooth transition process and applauded employees at the fund saying they are dedicated at work.

"The team is fairly committed to our clients. And the very many times I've reported before 7.00am, I have found people in the office,” said Wachira.

Dr Olwenyi also assured Kenyans of smooth transition saying they shall continue to get quality services.

“We must remember we have members who are expecting services. Change always comes with lots of anxiety, and this is natural. We have to embrace change, but the question is how we manage it,” said Olweny.

He added that employees who are charged with responsibility should provide quality services and ensure transition is seamless as much as possible.

The current NHIF board chairperson Engineer Micheal Kamau further asked employees to continue serving Kenyans with dedication as they have done before.

“We must always be cautious that we are working for the people of Kenyans. Whatever happens in the interim, do not drop the ball, the next person who might be in hospital might be the chairman (myself).

He added, “You can imagine the next person in hospital could be your father, mother, daughter, and they may even die. Irrespective of the process, please concentrate on you work”.

Further, Kamau maintained that the new management at NHIF is dedicated and will ensure smooth service provision, and enable Kenya Kwanza administration, to implement Universal Health Coverage (UHC), to enable all Kenyans access quality healthcare.

“We want seamless transition devoid of service disruption. I have neighbours who cannot manage paying Sh500. We want to move together, but never drop the ball,” added Kamau.

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