By Adam Pearse
Students say they are fed up with long wait times and what they describe as a “poor quality of service” when visiting the Health Service on the Manawatu campus.
Students have recently told Massive Magazine that they have concerns surrounding long wait times in between appointments, with some saying they can wait up to two weeks to see a doctor, despite how sick they are feeling.
As well as this, they say they are offered a “bad quality of service” and often feel as though doctors treat them more as a number than a patient.
Communications student, Mikayla Hopkins, says her main concern is long wait times.
“It’s difficult to make an appointment and it can be days before a doctor can see you,” she says.
She says it seems as though the services is more focused on rushing through patients quickly after they wait for weeks to see a doctor, than helping them to get better.
“All the counselling services are only [for a] offered short time and I know this is difficult for a lot of people,” she says.
Hopkins also says she feels doctors never take the time to listen properly to what she has to say, as they are having to move through their patients quickly.
Hopkins says she would refer other students to Massey’s healthcare service but would give them due warning.
“I guess I would refer other students to Massey’s Health Service as it’s handy, but I would warn them of the bad quality of service,” she says.
A student who wishes to remain anonymous says prolonged wait times for appointments have been an issue for her throughout the year.
“It is impossible to get an appointment within a reasonable time-frame, the wait times are around two weeks for an appointment.”
Massey University Students’ Association (MUSA) President Nikita Skipper has also spoken out against the Health Service at Massey’s Manawatu campus.
She says students are feeling neglected, their complaints are not being listened to and they are not being offered a basic level of healthcare.
“As a student, it’s not good enough… the process is too slow, too many students would rather stay sick than go to the Health Centre which is a huge worry.”
Skipper says many students have been forced to get grants to afford to attend a real hospital instead of Massey’s Health Service.
“We have seen an increase in students coming to us for hardship grants for them to go to hospital instead of [the Health Service] here.”
Skipper says staff at MUSA see sick students every day, who would rather pay for a doctor’s visit, than go to the Massey doctors.
Skipper says she understands the Health Service runs off a tight budget and resources can be stretched, but thinks outrage from students warrants more attention.
“They do have to work to a budget and I can really respect that, but I think when students are blatantly saying to you ‘this isn’t working’, then you need to change everything you’re doing to make it work for the students because every student is diverse in their needs.”
“They say, ‘funding is such a huge thing and this is the best that we can do’. I didn’t realise being healthy and being able to carry on with your studies is a crazy expectation to have.”
In an interview with Massive, Vice Chancellor, Jan Thomas was presented with complaints from students, and was shocked by the details.
“What I am seeing now for the first time is complaints, what I need [is] evidence on depth of importance and challenges they are having, that’s very worrying to read but today is the first time I’m reading it.
“I would like to look at the evidence for that because just a quick flick through those complaints, they’re horrid, they are certainly not complaints that you would want.”
Manager of Wellness Services, Terry Rivers, says in response to complaints the Health Service at Manawatu has recently undergone a restructure, which mainly consists of the appointment of a Practice Manager.
The Practice Manager will now take care of the operational needs of the medical and counselling services.
Rivers says the complaints are worrisome but that the service is committed to fixing them.
“It is of concern that some students indicate that they have been distressed by the level of service and the service is committed to addressing any complaints provided to it.”
Rivers admits that the problem of long wait times at Massey is because of a general practitioner shortage.
“The service, like others, has been impacted by the national shortage of general practitioners. This has resulted in longer waiting times than optimal.”
Manager Terry Rivers says that any complaints should be submitted to Medical-Centre-PN@massey.ac.nz so that the complaint can be addressed.