Alarm as skilled nurses leave for better salaries, working terms abroad


When KNH Nurses staged a strike over salary delays. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Public health institutions in Uasin Gishu County have lost more than 120 nurses through resignations and mobility in pursuit of better opportunities abroad.

Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) said over the last three years, staff in public institutions have reduced significantly from an initial 500 nurses as they consider better remunerations overseas.

Uasin Gishu branch union secretary Kleen Mutai said most nurses have migrated to the US, Australia, Canada, the UK and Finland, among other European countries, due to low salaries locally.

Speaking to the press in Eldoret town yesterday, Mr Mutai said the most hit by the mass exodus of well-trained and skilled healthcare providers are levels three and four hospitals.

According to Mutai, poor remuneration, lack of proper career progression, understaffing in hospitals and poor working environment are some of the reasons forcing the medics to leave the country for greener pastures.

Mutai, who was accompanied by several nurses, noted that those exiting the service at the county’s level three and four hospitals are between the ages of 30 and 45 years.

The union official regretted that most medics who have undergone specialised training in critical areas of health like ICU have left the country in search of greener pastures, thereby, causing a huge shortage of staff in the 171 hospitals run by the county.

“We are worried about losing skilled personnel just because the government cannot absorb them, the number of nurses exiting the county-run hospitals to seek greener pastures overseas is increasing at an alarming rate yearly. They consider better remuneration abroad,” said Mutai.

Mutai further implored the county government of Uasin Gishu to allocate more funds to the health sector, which will help the devolved unit to hire more nurses owing to understaffing in most of the hospitals across the county.

Mutai termed as ‘worrying’ the patient-nurse ratio, especially in level two public hospitals in far-flung areas of the expansive county, arguing that seeking greener pastures would affect health facilities in future.

He noted that most health centres and dispensaries are manned by one person, yet the people seeking medical services at the facility are more than 100, thus overwhelming available staff.

“In some cases, when a nurse in charge of a dispensary is sick for a week, the facility remains closed until he or she reports back to duty after recovery, thereby causing inconvenience to those seeking services at the hospital,” noted Mutai.

The official urged Governor Jonathan Bii’s administration to move with speed and address the acute nurse shortage that is biting public hospitals to bridge the patient-nurse ratio in the region.

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