Private hospitals cash in on health staff strike


Private hospitals are cashing in on the crisis in Busia County, where medical workers have been on strike for two weeks, paralysing services at public health institutions.

Desperate patients who would ordinarily seek services at public health facilities due to the subsidised cost of treatment are now turning to private hospitals to save lives.

A spot check by the Nation showed long queues at private hospitals as health staff vowed to continue with the job boycott until their concerns are addressed.

Ms Mary Onyango, who is nursing her mother at the Tanaka Nursing Home, called on the county administration to negotiate with the striking workers to solve the stalemate.

“Private hospitals are very expensive and most of us can’t afford the services. We are really suffering,” she said.

The health workers have complained about the shortage of drugs and equipment at public hospitals, and delayed promotions.

The Kenya National Union of Nurses and the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union have dismissed a move by Governor Sospeter Ojaamong to sack over 1,000 striking health workers, saying he has no powers to do so. No single health worker has been issued with a dismissal letter, putting into confusion the recruitment to replace those said to have been sacked.

Since the strike started, the county administration has not engaged union leaders in any meeting.

“We have tried our best to engage the county officials over the matter, but they have been reluctant to meet us. Instead, they are busy issuing baseless threats,” said the nurses union’s Busia chairperson, Mr Isaiah Omondi.

On Wednesday, the county government advertised positions for 558 medical staff to replace the striking workers. The applicants have up to December 1 to submit their applications to the chief officer.