What you need to know:
- MTRH inked a memorandum of understanding on implementing the 2021-2026 CBA with the KMPDU’s national and branch officials.
- MTRH says the deal will ensure continuity in service delivery, critical as Kenya embarks on key reforms under UHC.
Counties and hospitals managed by the national government must be open to dialogue to avert perennial industrial action that paralyses health services, a doctors’ union has said.
Counties and some of the hospitals were reluctant to engage and commit to implementing collective bargaining agreements (CBA), lamented Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) secretary-general Davji Atellah.
"We have a problem in this country because most counties and other health institutions wait until there is industrial action to act on issues,” Dr Attellah said.
Have a dialogue
"We should not be begging, and we are imploring all other institutions that we need to sit down and have a dialogue so that we can agree on implementation of CBAs to enhance service delivery in the health sector."
Dr Attellah spoke at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu county on Tuesday evening when MTRH inked a memorandum of understanding on implementing the 2021-2026 CBA with the KMPDU’s national and branch officials.
"We are happy that MTRH started negotiations before the initial 2017-2021 CBA has expired. We want to laud MTRH for engaging the union so that we have a framework on how they will implement the new CBA," he said.
The new CBA is in line with guidelines provided by the Salaries Remuneration Commission (SRC) and includes some of the financial and non-financial benefits to pharmacists, dentists and consultants working at MTRH.
Under the CBA, union members will enjoy enhanced allowances, staff promotion and health insurance. In the deal, MTRH also commits to paying professional fees for union members. Doctors previously had to shoulder those fees.
MTRH chief executive Dr Wilson Aruasa observed that the CBA framework would ensure continuity in service delivery, which is critical as Kenya embarks on key reforms under Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
"The CBA to be implemented in four years backdated to June 2017 to June 2026 spells out how staff will be recruited, trained and promoted, in case of disciplinary cases on how to resolve issues and disputes amicably," Dr Aruasa said, noting that the hospital management, board and unions have been negotiating for the past one year.
He added: "We regard members of unions not as an external entity but as part and parcel of MTRH. That is why we decided to engage with them to have good relations through a tripartite framework."
Services are crucial
Dr Aruasa noted that services are crucial because MTRH offers highly specialised treatment to patients from the vast Western and North Rift regions and such East African countries as Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and Tanzania.
He said MTRH’s “biggest catchment area is the bottom of the pyramid, who are the ordinary man and I can assure everyone that our services are of high quality and are also affordable".
KMPDU North Rift chairperson Darwin Ambuka lauded the framework on implementing the CBA, noting that it will enhance services.
"Patients will be the biggest winners when CBAs are implemented to the letter because they are meant to ensure doctors have a good working environment. We are looking at engaging with all counties to commit to implementation of CBAs," he said.