‘Doctors con game’ story sparks debate

Doctors at a hospital.

Doctors at a hospital. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

 The investigative piece published by Saturday Nation titled “Doctors con game” elicited mixed reactions from doctors, the public and Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua.

While some Kenyans shared what they have gone through in the name of waiting for doctors to attend to them, medics said they were being condemned unheard.

The Nation conducted a month-long investigation that revealed widespread neglect of duty by specialist doctors across the country, leaving poor patients unattended. On most occasions, patients wait in line until very late but mostly go home disappointed, turning to painkillers after failing to see the doctor.

The doctors, who are on government payroll but also run private clinics on the side, either simply fail to show up on their clinic days, or turn up late and attend only to a few random patients.

 “This is one piece of an article I laud you for highlighting. I have been with a sick wife for the last six years. It’s not easy to see a specialist in any hospital in Kenya.

“And even when referred, it’s not direct to be admitted, you can be told to come back after another week or two, or more, and distance travelled is never considered.  The problem as stated is that they come one day in a week but never on time,” Norbert Ochola wrote.

“To see one, it takes more than a month booking. You always have to start with all tests even when your file is well documented. This is very expensive and time-consuming for the sick common man. As a solution, can the specialist be at least allocated a specific time they must cover to qualify as employees of the county? Can all the doctors be pooled and staffed under one body to post, transfer and train them?”

One Duncan Mwita wrote: “Angela, I have suffered at the hands of one specialist at Machakos Level Five Hospital (name withheld) and I am ready to provide evidence when called upon.”

But Dr Chibanzi Mwachonda, former KMPDU secretary general, termed the story sensational, adding that 15 specialists out of a pool of over 4,000 does not qualify the labelling of the whole profession. For her part, Azimio leader Martha Karua, responding to the doctor, said there is a problem that needs fixing.

Dr Andrew Suleh said “Doctors con game reminds one of The Government Inspector by Nikolai Gogol who put all that was rotten in the government into ridicule so that people could read and correct their mistakes. Harsh as it may appear but we need to act.”

One doctor said without the Health Service Commission, Kenyans are likely to see more of this in future.  “The sector just needs to be regulated. Dr Chibanzi Mwachoda.”

Another doctor, who is also a hospital administrator, said: “It is not bad to practise in the private sector, but it is now common that many are not doing what they are supposed to do. It is not easy to fight them and win.”

In a thread conversation, Dr- Moturii (MD) wrote: “Me being a peaceful young doctor in Kenya then kaboom, starts violence and spreading rumour. Who is the source of this information, not defamation? Why are they lying to Kenyans?”

@Omari-WK responded: “But they are not lying.”

One SammkigsSammy said: “Worry, the story is very true. Absenteeism is real. A student who was to undertake a medical examination before admission to university spent two full years in one of the hospitals in Nairobi for a lack of doctors.”

One Son of Wanga wrote: “You have not acquainted yourself with the number of lawsuits against doctors in the country both presently and in the past.”

Dr Rowena Njeri wrote: “this is why we advocate a health service commission to regulate human resource practices in healthcare while cushioning both healthcare workers and employers.

“A certain county is still withholding July salaries and expects miracles. Any way a robust HR in counties should manage their staff.”

@Sundayrolex wrote: “This is true and it is of great concern. The what about won’t help. We have other problems and concerns in the health sector and highlighting some doesn’t mean others are non-existent. Besides, the media had press freedom as you do the freedom of speech.”

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