Director of Student Wellbeing Projects, Dr Chris Lusk, has recently introduced the Student Health Hub to the University of St Andrews this September.
The Student Health Hub is a new office within the local Community Hospital, in conjunction with a new student health app, in order to alleviate the demand placed on NHS services in Fife.
On the new service, Dr Lusk said, “The University considers the health and wellbeing of students as a priority. However, up to now, medical services have been provided independently of the University, by the local NHS, without any way for Student Services staff to support the process.”
The student clinic will be financed at £150,000 per annum by the University and will be open Monday to Friday from 8 am to 5 pm.
It will be staffed by a University-based workforce who will offer advice and consultation on suitable health-care services.
Approximately 80 percent of students requesting GP consultation do not need healthcare directly from a doctor.
Dr Lusk noted, “Because the internationally-recognised word for medical assessment is ‘doctor’, many students have been insisting on seeing doctors when, in fact, one of the other NHS primary healthcare providers might have been more appropriate.”
Targeted at reducing the number of students seeking consultation with general practitioners for non-emergencies, the initiative will provide an additional 7,000 appointments per year whilst minimising waiting times for the wider community.
Dr Lusk acknowledged, “In the past waiting times have been as long as three weeks for a doctor’s appointment, but with University investment and the wholehearted cooperation of our local GPs, we are all optimistic that waiting times will be brought right down, assuring appropriate access for students and residents alike.”
The Student Health App supplements the Hub as part of the University’s student healthcare strategy, allowing students to facilitate self-diagnosis and management.
Advice, local contact points, and a student health helpline can be accessed free of charge from the app, available on the App Store.
Similar to Nightline, a student-run helpline, the Student Health Helpline is a new service by the University and is resourced by University staff.
Both local GPs and politicians have vocally supported the University’s strategy.
Stephen Gethins, MP for the Scottish National Party, remarked, “The University should be commended on this innovative approach and significant investment, which is a great example of town and gown working well together.”