MCAs urge hiring of more nurses

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By FRANCIS MUREITHI
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The Nakuru County Assembly has adopted a report to compel the executive to hire more nurses on permanent terms.

The move comes even as hundreds of nurses stayed away from duty in the ongoing countrywide strike that entered its third day on Wednesday.

According to the report, the number of nurses at Nakuru Level Five Hospital has declined by 25 per cent from 450 to 353 since the advent of devolution.

The decline has been attributed to low morale due to pending promotions, delayed salaries, lack of staff development and natural attrition.

“Since 2013 a total of 101 health workers who include medical officers, specialists, nurses and clinical officers have left the referral hospital and have not been replaced,” said the report.

The hardest-hit departments include the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), radiology, orthopaedic, oncology, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynaecology, which are operating without specialists as per the health standards.

The hospital, which also serves residents of Baringo, Narok, Nyandarua, Laikipia and Kericho counties, has 40 medical officers and specialists instead of the recommended 110 medical officers as per its size and operations.

On Tuesday, members of the county assembly (MCAs), while debating the motion authored by the chairman of the health committee Joseph Lang’at (Kapkures), said Nakuru needs to set aside more money to hire the nurses on permanent terms.

Nominated MCA Janet Wamaitha Mucheru said it was sad that most of the nurses in the county were working on contract.

“The nurses who have been on contract should be employed on permanent basis to motivate them as they are handling the lives of people and should be well remunerated,” said Ms Mucheru.

Viwandani Ward MCA Eunice Muriithi, while contributing to the motion, said health issues should not be treated casually.

“Health facilities and human resource are the most critical components in the health sector and as we speak the situation is going from bad to worse as most nurses are still on contract,” said Ms Muriithi.

She said it was hard to monitor the working styles of the nurses since they were working on contractual basis and are bound to terminate their contract any time.

“If the county fails to employ nurses on permanent basis, we shall forever live with this ghost of nurses’ strike and the main losers are the ordinary citizens who depend on public hospitals,” said Ms Muriithi.

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