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September 25, 2006 | by  | in News |
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Doctor Shortage Causes Long Waits at Student Health

Week-long waits for routine doctor’s appointments at Student Health have caused delays to students gaining medical certificates for extensions on assignments and tests.

A concerned tutor says it was “quite upsetting” that ill students were under extra stress about getting medical certificates and extensions.

“You can see that these students are really upset, a lot of them have fluey symptoms or strep throat and they can’t provide evidence for [their sickness]. It’s just an added pressure that they don’t need.”

“It seems to be pretty consistent that it’s normally about a week’s wait between when you ring up and when you get an appointment nowadays,” she says.

The tutor says that a number of other tutors within her department have “come across this problem quite regularly, particularly this trimester.”

Student Health Medical Director Dr Thaw Naing says that the issue is demand exceeding supply, a problem nationwide due to a shortage of doctors and nurses.

“Demand is very, very high. We’ve got 20,000 students and we provide [medical care] free of service, and we [have 13] fully-qualified GPs. We’ve got two nurses running clinics simultaneously as well, so therefore the question of ‘will the supply ever meet the demand’ will be a big question,” he says.

Dr Naing says it is “not uncommon” around New Zealand for students to wait five to seven days during peak-times for a routine doctor’s appointment.

VUWSA Welfare Vice-President Jules van Cruysen says there is a “drain” on Student Health’s services with people with minor ailments seeking medical certificates for extensions. “They should be getting extensions, but it’s a question of whether they should need to go to Student Health to get that extension.” Dr Naing emphasised that there are emergency appointments available every day “to accommodate urgent medical needs”, and says Student Health is “trying our best to recruit doctors”, although space for additional doctors and nurses is limited.

“We’ve gone to such an extent that we’re even thinking of recruiting doctors from overseas. It’s a national crisis, if you like.”

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About the Author ()

With her take-no-prisoners, kick-ass attitude, former News Editor Laura McQuillan adequately makes up for her lack of stature. Roaming the corridors (and underground tunnels) of the University by day, and hunting vampires and Nazi war criminals by night, McQuillan will stop at nothing to bring you the freshest news.

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