University News: Essex Health Centre faces backlash over poor treatment

The Health Centre at the University of Essex. Photo: HK Norman

Complaints and criticism of the University Health Centre has led to questions being raised as to whether the Health Centre is doing its job, and whether the University its getting value for money.

The University of Essex pays Rowhedge Medical Practice for the provision of Health Centre Services on campus, including appointments, emergency nurse meetings, and psychiatric help. While we have contacted both the University and the Medical Practice to ask how much the University pays the Practice on multiple occasions, they have not responded.

One student went into great detail about their dealings with the Health Centre. “I’d been forced to visit the emergency nurse having had 6 nosebleeds that day. The advice the emergency nurse gave me was laughable. She told me ‘not to blow my nose’ as it could trigger a nosebleed (and I had a cold at the time that formed after the nosebleeds began), and that if a nosebleed happened that I should just “lean my head forward until it went away”. When I went to the nurse, I’d had 6 nosebleeds. I ended up having another 8 nosebleeds, coughing up a load of blood, mucus, and clots, and having to take a taxi to A&E with my significant other where I waited to have my nose cauterised. Unfortunately, they only cauterised it in one place and the nosebleeds have persisted, at a reduced rate albeit, but the following Monday I ended up having 7 and nearly passed out. Again.”

Another who went to the health centre with a sinus infection spoke of how she spent two hours waiting for an appointment to get advice on it, and that she heard the health centre staff “cackling and saying I need to just get over it and saying stuff about uni students all being like that”.

A student spoke of how she felt as if one of the health centre advisors were keen to get rid of the students, as she was prescribed anti-depressants for sleeping problems, which is indicative of a clear lack of concern for students with real problems as it’s hard enough for people who have depression to be prescribed anti-depressants.

A Master’s degree student who is in his 5th year at the university said that he and many of his friends had not bothered to register at the health centre for the entire time they’d been studying there, deeming it to be not worth the hassle.

One student gave a mixed picture, saying that in general the staff were nice if you manage to get an appointment, but “whilst I was getting an injection the other day another nurse came barging in without knocking and without asking permission during a private consultation which I found really breached my privacy. Also, I’ve been trying for two weeks to have an appointment because they can’t give me a repeat prescription on medication I’ve taken for the past 4 years, yet there are no appointments available and have refused to give me an advance one”.

However, two students did say that their overall experiences with the health centre had been positive.

One said; “Apart from one of the nurses being unable to get blood out of me for a blood test most of my experience has been positive. I was experiencing some bad symptoms, and no one knew what it was and she referred me for a blood test straight away and got me on the right medication straight away. She’s always been great with my mental health issues and given me the right support and medication for that. People moan about long wait times but if you book online you can usually get one within the next week.”

Another said; “I have had a good experience with them, when I enquired about getting Gender Identity Clinic referral they were quick to get me a referral and asked I come back the day after to explain that I wouldn’t be referred to a psychiatrist as the GP had originally thought but would be referred directly to the GIC.”

Rowhedge Medical Practice declined to comment on the complaints made.


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