Dark Day For Unity Health: Students speak out against “incompetent” clinic

Unity Health

The state of health services at the University have been slammed by angry students.

Students have spoken out to York Vision about their experiences with the Unity Health centre.

One third year politics student, Lisa Worthington, described her experience with the campus health service provider as: “worse than the time I got hit by a car.”

Some students claim they have had to wait for more than an hour outside in the cold before seeing a doctor.

Abigail Kempson, a first year Economics student, said: “I think it’s really bad if you are really ill you are expected to stand in the freezing cold for at least an hour.

“When I finally got to see a nurse she was really vague.

“I felt like she played down how ill I was and didn’t take me seriously at all.”

During term time, the practice is open from 8:30am till 6:00pm but students claim they are told to stand in line for an appointment at 8am if they want to be seen.

YUSU Community and Well-being Officer Scott Dawson said: “First of all I am very aware of the issue surrounding waiting time, particularly with the early morning drop in sessions.

“A few action points are currently happening or being developed.”

The YUSU Sabbatical Officer met with a focus group last Wednesday where students shared their concerns over the campus health service providers.

He said: “To get a greater understanding of the situation in the mornings I am going to be attending the early morning stay and wait this coming Friday (November 27).”

Unity Health bosses have said they see 45 unscheduled patients each weekday morning in their ‘stay & wait clinic’.

However, patients turning up after all these walk-in slots have been filled will normally be turned away.

Statistics obtained by York Vision show Unity Health saw 300 students at the stay and wait clinic in Week 7.

This does not include figures for regular appointments.
“In summary, the session brought these issues to the attention of Unity Health and they are now working closely on the problems and are keeping me in the loop with developments,” Scott Dawson said.

A first year Politics student said: “I called to make an appointment and they said I had to wait two weeks to see anyone, unless I went at 8am.

“I know it’s not their fault but the service is completely inadequate.

“Something needs to be done.”

A Unity Health spokesperson confirmed they were working with a Dawson on the “queue matter”.

He said: “We did discuss the wait for appointments at our Student Patient Participation Group meeting on campus last Wednesday.”

According to health officials, the wait for a pre-booked, non-urgent GP appointment is eight working days.

This means if students booked today at the time of going to print, they could not expect to see a health specialist until next Thursday, December 3.

“It is worth noting that the wait for appointments is affected by the number of patients who do not attend per booked appointments,” the spokesperson said, adding that, in October, 224 of 336 no-shows were students.

He said: “We do encourage patients to cancel appointments they no longer need to allow others to use them.”

University management have said they are working on plans to increase the capacity of healthcare providers on campus.

David Duncan, Registrar and Secretary, said: “We have planning permission for a new medical centre, pharmacy, mini supermarket and shops at the Field Lane entrance to the Heslington East campus.

“This will create more space for GP surgeries, which should in turn mean that patients can be seen more quickly.

“The plan is to convert the old medical centre on campus into a nursery for the children of staff and students.

“We are still finalising the building plans and hope to begin construction on site in the near future.”

7 thoughts on “Dark Day For Unity Health: Students speak out against “incompetent” clinic

  1. To be honest, I have always had a good experience with them. Just the other day, I logged onto the online system and booked an appointment at the Hull Road clinic the very next day. There were pre-bookable appointments available at all three surgeries available throughout the whole of this week.

    The stay and wait system of queuing up is an unusual one, and could be done better. Such as maybe having the opportunity to book online appointments or phone in on the day and take the stay and wait slots, as opposed to having to show up and queue.

    Other than that, Unity Health have always been fantastic with me. I have gone for many different problems and have always received the perfect care that I have needed. Feel like this article is really quite unfair on them. Quotes like the “nurse didn’t really care”, based on one person’s perception is not really good for a surgery that serves the University well. We are lucky we even have one on campus. The real issue, which this article is about, is the queue system for the stay and wait. Be best to stick to that rather than the dramatised beliefs of one student.

    The on campus surgery is tiny and caters for thousands of students, what do you expect? Go to the other clinics or register at a different surgery if you aren’t happy to wait for a little while for our FREE HEALTHCARE system.

  2. Unity health have always been very fair and kind to me and it is worth noting that there staff are great people. I would just state that the NATIONAL health service receives funding as if it is enough to look after the taxpayer. Of course internationals get free use of our system.

    You can not expect a clinic, which is being funded for UK nationals, to perform excellently when it has internationals to deal with. You have to remember York has a mass base of international students. Depending on your politics you could say increase UK taxpayers taxes to pay for these international students. Or you can follow what other countries do and make international students have health insurance. The money raised from either method would solve the problem.

  3. Aren’t we a little over the whole “it’s the NHS so you can’t complain” argument by now. Blah blah blah Nurses are all angels etc.

    Yes it’s a small clinic which caters to way too many people. I’ve often thought students should just register at other clinics in town if they want to avoid the Unity Health circus, you do actually have some choice in this matter. But still, you can’t rebuke the anecdotal evidence of one student saying they had a bad experience just because you had a good experience. I’ve had a lot of good experience with healthcare professionals, and i’ve also found a lot of them to be rude, entitled jerks who likely feel excused behaving in that way because people go around saying they’re all automatically saints and angels because of what they do for a living!

    Too many health centres, like my practice in Gillygate are going for this “early bird gets the worm” style system where they make ill people (both physically and mentally ill) get up ridiculously early in the morning. This is particularly jarring for students and the like who aren’t used to a 9-5 routine. Which SHOULD be a consideration, because it’s just their routine is different, i’m sick of this “students are lazy” line. If middle aged bores who trot that line out had the schedules students had they might be a little all over the shop as well!

    It is simply a joke to make ill people queue for healthcare at 8am. Maybe the best policy would be to introduce a small fine for non attendance of appointments without prior notification, and do away with the stay and wait service, and perhaps the union and uni could encourage people to register at other clinics and surgeries around the city, and advertise what and where those practices are. This comes up every year and we always get some unhelpful commenter trying to toot the “but, but, the NHS is free” trumpet. Bore off, we can be more imaginative than this.

  4. MuhNHS – No need to be rude and hostile. The point is one anecdotal story about a student having a negative experience isn’t good enough to create a sensationalised article calling our only on campus surgery “incompetent”, and is actually quite damaging. A better article would have been how people were unhappy with the queuing system and there is requirement for it to be changed – the anecdote about a rude nurse is completely irrelevant to the rest of the article.

    Ironically, you just moan and whinge and make no effort to offer anything “imaginative” to this debate. Despite mentioning how the NHS is free, I actually made a suggestion to solve the problems with people queuing up. Ironically again, no one is here saying that it isn’t a bad thing that ill people have to queue up at 8am to be seen. So maybe read people’s comments properly before being a rude and childish individual. Perhaps you should be the one to “bore off” until you can offer something productive to this discussion.

  5. I agree with ThirdYear that it is normally possible to get a pre-booked appointment at one of the other surgeries fairly quickly, but I have to say that the stay and wait system for weekday mornings just got more and more ridiculous over the four years I was at York (just left this summer).

    The receptionist on the phone was always dismissive, saying something along the lines of “Well we have a two week wait for appointments at the moment so you’re better off coming on the morning and waiting”. One morning I arrived at 07:45 to find the queue already 15 people long, and by 09:00 when I was called up to be offered an appointment I was told to come back at 11:30. When I then returned I still wasn’t seen until 12:30.

    Granted, the surgery are probably doing all that they can to see as many people as they can, but with two campuses and a growing student population thanks to the recent opening of the new colleges, I just don’t think the campus surgery is fit for purpose any more in terms of size.

    Other problems I had, some of which mentioned above:

    – Waiting several hours one morning for an appointment with a doctor, only to find I’d been booked with a nurse, without being told, who was unable to help me with my problem
    – Again, waiting to be seen by a doctor and finding that, not only was I being seen by a nurse again, but that by mistake I had been booked into the sexual health drop in which ran at the same time
    – Problems that I brought up on appointments not being taken seriously, or being dismissed and told “it’s probably freshers’ flu” even when I’d had appointments in the past with the same problem. This was even when including symptoms that at the time featured in NHS cancer awareness campaigns.

  6. Disappointing article. Is Vision the training ground for the lazy journalists of the future? A rich mine of new talent for the Daily Star & the Sun!

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