Nurse’s strike bites

Patients visiting the Thika Level 5 Hospital in Kiambu County continue to experience pain and desperation as the Nurses strike enters the 7th day Sunday.

A visit at the facility by KNA revealed that all departments were operating dismally as nurses deserted the hospital, with the wards and the outpatient department having close to normal activities courtesy of the hospital doctors, a handful of nurses and a help from interns and student doctors.

Deputy Medical Superintendent Dr. Joseph Waiganjo, said that they were handling the situation in the best way they could even though some of the services were not functional due to scarcity of manpower.

Our staff are doing all that is possible to ensure that we do not turn away any patient who needs our services. We are, however, unable to run some emergency services as some of them cannot run without nurses. New admissions into our wards have also been halted for now due to the limited workforce but those who are already admitted are being well taken care of, said Dr. Waiganjo.

A spot-check on the facility saw that the casualty department was non-functional as all its beds had been taken outside for repairs and cleaning. There was no single patient being handled in the department.

Patients expressed their disappointment over the slow pace the staff were handling their cases and appealed to the government to hasten the talks with the nurses’ union in order to bring their suffering to a halt.

It is now more than an hour since I was rushed here after being hit by a car near Kiganjo Estate as I was going home aboard a bodaboda. I am really suffering in pain and no one seems to get bothered to look at my leg, said Jennifer Muthoni as she writhed in pain from injuries she had sustained on her right knee.

Nurses went on strike on Monday over delays a deal meant to have been signed by the Union, the National Government and County Governments, but the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) that advises on public sector pay rejected the deal.

The strike, which has led to patients being sent away from some hospitals, is a headache for both National and County Governments ahead of elections in August 8.

Elsewhere in Kajiado, nurses have vowed to stay put until their demands are honoured.

A spot check by KNA confirmed that there were no services being offered at the hospitals as patients were turned away at the gate to seek medical attention from private hospitals.

Many patients were discharged from Tuesday with a few stranded in the wards following accumulated bills.

Patients with mental health issues could be seen roaming around alone in the wards and hospital compound with the administrative department left to cater for them while those at the isolated wards for contagious diseases like Tuberculosis were also left stranded as they were denied discharge.

According to a nurse who did not want to be named, the nurses would continue with the strike until the CBA was signed and their issues addressed comprehensively.

We are very disappointed by the government. They seem to be out of touch with the reality on the ground. Fellow Kenyans are in pain and they need our support but in such kind of circumstances where the government cannot honour what they themselves agreed with us, then we have no choice but to fight for our rights, she said.

The Kenya National Union Of Nurses, Deputy Secretary, Maurice Opetu called on the nurses to boycott duty on Monday 5th June after both the National and County Government failed to sign and register a Collective Bargaining Agreement ( CBA) that was negotiated December 2016.

The nurses have vowed to continue with the strike until the government signs their collective bargaining agreement (CBA), according to Maurice Opetu, acting General Secretary of the 26,000-member Kenya National Union of Nurses.

Source: Kenya News Agency