Koskei says state can't afford to pay intern doctors Sh206,000

Head of Public Service Felix Koskei addressing the media at KICC, Nairobi on March 22, 2024 after their meeting with doctors failed to bear fruit. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The ongoing doctors strike looks far from over after the government stood its ground on the Sh206,000 monthly pay demand by intern doctors, saying that the country was facing a financial crisis.

As the strike enters its third week, Head of Public Service Felix Koskei announced that the government cannot raise Sh12 billion required to pay the salaries of more than 1,200 intern doctors.

However, Koskei assured that the government was keen to return to the negotiation table with the striking doctors.

On Tuesday, the government secured Sh2.4 billion to facilitate the immediate posting of the 2023-24 cohort of medical interns.

In a statement, the government also agreed to clear salary arrears of medics under the national government arising from the 2017-21 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

Speaking in Naivasha, Koskei termed some of the demands by the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Union (KMPDU) unattainable and unachievable due to the current economic times.

He identified the Sh206,000 monthly pay to the intern doctors as one of the major obstacles saying the government could only afford Sh70,000.

“We engaged the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) which has proposed Sh70,000 per month for the interns and the government is ready to pay this,” he said.

The Head of Public Service noted that with the number of graduating medics on the rise, the government could not meet the salary demand which had risen from Sh4 billion to Sh12 billion.

“We should focus on the internship of these medical students who will in future earn whatever they want once they are through with their learning,” he said.

Addressing the press on the sidelines of the ongoing Women in Procurement and Supply Chain conference, Koskei attributed the crisis in the health sector to the decision by doctors to ignore court orders.

He said that despite the court calling off the strike and a committee formed to address the long-standing issues that had bedeviled healthcare, the medics had continued with their industrial action.

“The committee has identified 19 issues that need to be resolved and some belong to the national government and counties while others are cross-cutting,” he said.

Koskei assured that the government was committed to pay arrears in basic salary of doctors under by the national government while the counties were doing their part.

“We are calling for reasoning in this whole situation and for the doctors to return to work and alleviate the suffering of Kenyans as we solve their problems,” he said.