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YORK VISION

Tuesday June 8th, 2010

SURVEY AND TESTIMONIALS DAMN CAMPUS HEALTH CENTRE SERVICE

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UNIVERSITY HEALTH CENTRE IN CRITICAL CONDITION By david elliotT and milana knezevic NEGLECTED STUDENTS have spoken out against the abysmal treatment they have received at the hands of the University Health Centre. Students have told Vision they were angry and that they felt humiliated when dealing with staff about delicate issues. On multiple occasions they have even been forced to seek appropriate medical assistance at off-campus facilities.

UNPROFESSIONAL Mary*, a second year Psychology student, was made to wait for 90 minutes at the GUM drop-in clinic, only to be told that she would have to make a separate appointment at a clinic on Monkgate as the health centre could not deal with symptomatic Chlamydia. The Health Centre the ability of the Health Centre to effecclaimed that they could not offer across tively diagnose physical problems. Tina*, the counter medicine, but did not even a first year music student with a history give her a prescription for an off-campus of joint probelms, went to the practice with wrist pain and was told pharmacy, which they that no tests would be necare fully licensed to do. essary. The problem was She claims that the persistent however, and medical staff at the on seeking a consultaHealth Centre were tion with her home surh two c i h dismissive of her W ocis gery, she had a blood test a i d concerns. “I felt emme en that led to fast and effecve be a h barrassed and cons e et over g tive treatment. “The uni n i h fused... I was made to bitc ook? health centre told me just feel extremely uncomFaceb e're W to stop playing my instru: e u fortable, but the staff at Cl em'! ment - if I had listened to ne of o t the GUM clinic in town o n them I may have had to were really friendly, do so permanently." and understood what I Second year Politics was going through.” student Alan* sought advice from Numerous other stuthe Health Centre regarding a lifelong dents have come forward with similar problems. Third year veg- sexual condition. One of the doctors there etarian, Sarah*, spoke of how staff at the assumed without asking that he was sexuhealth centre were contemptuous of her ally immature and Alan was told that the lifestyle choice. “I was asked how long I problem would "treat itself." It did not, was planning on being a vegetarian for. and Alan has since consulted another The doctor was patronising throughout doctor, who recommended to him a readand continually belittled my belief sys- ily available course of steroid cream that quickly treated the problem. tem.” First year Steve* hurt his thumb playing rugby, and was told by the surgery that it was merely a strain. His thumb turned Concerns have also been raised over purple overnight and he was urged to go

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to A&E by friends, where he was informed that it was in fact broken.

POOR STANDARDS In response to similar complaints from students about the standard of treatment at the health centre last year, YUSU conducted a survey with 89 respondents. Among other things, respondents were asked if they had any positive or negative experiences with the Health Centre. They were also encouraged to give examples of how the service could be improved. Over half the female respondents to this section claimed they had had solely negative experiences, with one third claiming the service was mixed. Only two women taking the survey said they had had solely positive experiences. The figures were slightly more positive for the male students who completed this section. One quarter mentioned just negative experiences, one quarter just positive ones, with the rest giving both positive and negative responses. Furthermore, the number of drop-in and emergency slots was singled out as an area where there was room for improvement. The survey report also stated that there was “noticeable concern” at the need to disclose symptoms at the reception and the lack of privacy that this entails. Vision contacted the surgery but the Practice Manager, Brenda Mumby was unavailable for comment. The receptionist on duty did however say that it is

not standard procedure to ask patients for symptoms at the reception desk. The practice’s very own year on year survey from 2005 to 2008 shows the University Health Centre consistently scoring lower than the other surgeries in Wenlock Terrace and Hull Road. On most measures the surgery also scored markedly below the national benchmark. For 2008, the satisfaction with the receptionists was 63%, while the national benchmark was at 75%. Similarly, the target of satisfaction with how well the doctor puts the patient at ease was 78% while it was 74% in the University Health Centre. The biggest disparity was in the service provided when phoning in to the clinic for advice. The health centre had a 38% satisfaction rate in 2008, 18 points less than the national benchmark and 22 and 34 points less than We n l o c k Ter race and Hull R o a d respectively.

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“The health centre is contracted to provide a service to students on campus; it has a significant duty of care and complaints that it's failing in that are worrying,” states YUSU Welfare Officer Ben Humphrys. He recognises that although last year’s survey was a good first step, it did not provide the information needed to make substantial changes. YUSU are therefore launching a larger survey this year, where Humphrys also hopes to hold focus groups to “drill down the issues to provide actions from which we can make progress.” “We're pleased they have agreed to take part in a consultation, of which this week’s survey is one strand, to address underlying issues and we look forward to forming a better service for students over the coming months.” *Names have been changed to protect students’ identities


Health Centre Standards - David Elliott and Milana Knezevic