Doctors hold crisis talks to avert strike - 22/Nov/2011

The government on Monday held talks with doctors association in a bid to avert a looming strike by doctors working in public hospitals who are demanding up to Sh600,000 a month.

Medical Services Minister Prof Anyang Nyong’o met officials of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentist Union at his office in Nairobi to hear their grievances even as the doctors insisted that the strike was still on.

“The Medical Services Minister has just called us to his office for a meeting. We want to hear what he has to offer but as of now, the strike is still on,” the Union’s Secretary General Dr Boniface Chitayi told Nation before going into the meeting.

The meeting was still going on as we went to press. The medics want their salaries increased by 300 per cent, which will see lowest paid doctor getting Sh240,000 per month from the current Sh60,000.

If the government yields to their demands, the highest paid doctor will take home a monthly salary of Sh520,000, four times what such doctors are currently earning.

The union also wants the doctors to be compensated for working at odd hours.

Speaking at the weekend, Dr Chitayi warned that doctors would go on strike starting December 5 if the government fails to meet their demands.

“If our demands are not met, doctors will stay at home. There will be no emergency calls. But we are open to talks with the government to avert a crisis,” Dr Chitayi said.

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Exposure to infections

The doctors are complaining that unlike other public servants, they are not entitled to risk allowances despite working under tough conditions such as exposure to infections, radiation and even attacks by mentally unstable patients.

“The irony is that doctors offer services which they themselves cannot afford,” Dr Chitayi said.

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