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Hospital Services Paralysed

The Nation (Nairobi), Sunday 12 November 2000

Nairobi - Operations at a Limuru mission hospital were paralysed after 13 of the 42 nurses were sacked. The Nazareth Hospital nurses are said to have been embroiled in long-running dispute with the management

There was tension at the hospital on Friday night as police were called in as the first batch to be shown the door were given 48 hours to vacate the compound.

At least a dozen nurses had received their termination letters yesterday morning while sources indicated "more sackings are to follow."

The sackings are a climax of a row between the hospital and the nurses who opted to join a trade union in July.

The department most affected by a go-slow after the letters were issued was the labour ward where an average of 10 deliveries occur daily.

The nurses joined the Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational Institutions, Hospitals and Allied Workers (Kudheiha) against their employer's wish.

The dismissal letters read in part: "Having appended your signature (to joining the union), you effectively terminated your employment contract with Nazareth Hospital."

Their complaints ranged from alleged underpayment, being overworked and failure to be taken in on permanent and pensionable basis yet most have worked for 10 to 27 years.

The angry nurses told the Sunday Nation that some subordinate staff, who are pensionable, were earning Sh6,500 per month while most of the nurses earned Sh5,500.

Those interviewed alleged that the institution had lost 20 nurses since January due to the high-handedness of the management.

Later, the hospital management faxed a statement to the Nation saying: "Kudheiha unilaterally enrolled the nurses and paramedics yet the cadres are classified as non-unionisable in the recognition and procedural agreement signed between the union and the Kenya Catholic Secretariat in 1967."

The management also denied allegations that subordinate staffers earned more than nurses in the institution.

"At the same time, the management would like to reassure that it was taking the necessary measures to ensure there were no disruption of services to patients at the hospital."

Meanwhile, patients seeking treatment at the Migori District Hospital were yesterday being turned away due to an acute shortage of medical supplies.

Some in-patients were discharged before full recovery and advised by the hospital authorities to seek treatment elsewhere.

During a fact-finding tour, the Nation met two female patients who had just been ejected from the institution in the morning.

The frail-looking patients were unable to walk on their own and were lying outside the hospital.

One of the patients, Ms Dorcas Akinyi, from Awendo, said she was waiting for relatives to collect her while relatives of another patient, Rose Adhiambo, hired a bicycle taxi to transfer her to another hospital.

Contacted, the Medical Officer of Health, Dr Odhiambo Nganyi, blamed the situation on lack of drugs saying they had not received any consignment in the past four months.

"We are only admitting critically ill patients while those who have shown signs of recovery are advised to go home," he said but denied that sick patients were being ejected. [African Development Forum 2000]

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