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Crisis as registrar doctors down tools

Bernard Gitau @benagitau

Services at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) were yesterday paralysed after more than 700 registrar doctors (intern doctors) downed their tools in solidarity with a colleague suspended over the head surgery mix-up saga.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) secretary general Dr Ouma Oluga said the incident was not as a result of professional negligence but an error that usually occurs in medicine.

“Errors do occur every time in medicine worldwide. The suspension is a knee jerk reaction where those mentioned were not,” he said. Oluga vowed that if those suspended would not be reinstated unconditionally, services at the referral facility would remain paralysed.

“The more than 700 doctors in training, who are actually the backbone at the emergency and accident theatres have resolved that from today, they will not be able to work without their supervisors, who are also their teachers and because also then the system does not protect them,” he said.

The more than 700 registrar doctors joined more than 300 specialist consultants in medical schools, who are on strike over non-implementation of their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

“We regret what happened and commend those who brought the issue to the limelight but those involved should be dealt with as prescribed by medical rules and procedures,” he noted.

Due to the mix-up, Oluga said, they have formed a seven-member committee comprising senior professors from KNH and University of Nairobi to draft a standard operation procedure menu. “It will outline safety measures to be followed by all health workers in all cadres to prevent such issues in future,” Oluga said.

The committee will also review the hospital’s engagement with registrar doctors and specialists from the University of Nairobi. KNH Board and Health CS Sicily Kariuki suspended CEO Lily Koros, a neurosurgeon and registrar doctors involved in the surgery. KMPDU chairman Dr Samuel Oroko said the mix-up was a tip of the iceberg as systems were non-functional.

“Suspension of staff cannot be a solution to systemic quality assurance issues in the hospital. We lose a number of babies for lack of enough theatres and under-staffing,” Oroko said. Oroko called for the immediate disbandment of KNH Board, terming it ineffective, incompetent and thriving under mismanagement, politics, tribalism and nepotism.

“We call for a complete overhaul of KNH systems. Digitisation of patients admission until discharge should be embraced,” he added. He said the neurosurgeon who has been suspended was a hardworking professional who should be celebrated rather than condemned.

“We have only three neurosurgeons at KNH based at the casualty, theatre and wards. They work full time, hence can be exhausted,” he added. Oroko said Kenya has 16 neurosurgeons, hence the number of patients per doctor is overwhelming.

The chairman of the Association of Medical Students at the University of Nairobi Ahmed Dekow appealed to the government to find a lasting solution to the stalemate. “We are suffering as our training and learning are disrupted.

Last year the strike affected us for more than five months of prolonged electioneering. Another strike is unfortunate,” said Dekow. Meanwhile, Lower Kabete University of Nairobi students demonstrated over the death of their colleague at KHN.

The rowdy students demanded justice for Angelos Miano. As they gathered outside Accident and Emergency Unit, they were roughed up by police officers who arrested five students and two cameramen from NTV and KU Tv.

They were taken to Kilimani Police Station. The students alleged that Miano died of brain injuries after doctors bypassed him and operated a wrong patient. A student leader, Austin Juma, said the late Miano was involved in an accident on University Way last Monday and was taken to KNH by a Good Samaritan.

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