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Despite the decision to close the on campus Nurse Unit have been in the public domain since the start of this term many students are still shocked by the news, feeling they have been left in the dark by the University.
“Thats crazy. I can’t believe they shut it down,” said Adam Humphreys, a second year student who had not heard about the closure before. “I think it’s important that they don’t [shut down the service] because my experience was that I had to go with a friend for a late night emergency and without it a nurse unit being there, it is impossible [to get help].”
When asked what he thought about the University’s decision to close down the nurse unit another student, Pratik Parekh said: “It’s wrong.” He added, “What if someone is in need [of immediate help]? What if I have fever and I just want some regular medicine? I dont’t want to go all the way to town for that.”
Both Humphreys and Parekh were among thousands of students who live on campus were not aware of the Nurse Unit’s imminent closure.
“I think it is safe to say that this whole process has been fairly secretive with LUSU and the Nurse Unit [staff] being told one thing and the University going off and doing another,” said LUSU Vice President (Equality, Welfare and Diversity), Pete Macmillan.
The closure of nurse unit was raised at the beginning of the term. The University Management Advisory Group which is chaired by Vice Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings, made its recommendation in early October. Cost saving and the availability of external healthcare provisions were cited as among the reasons for such recommendation. It was also recommended that the University reallocate more resources for students’ mental health support.
The decision was in essence finalised by University Council at its meeting four days later which saw a senior member walk out in protest at the Chair’s refusal to open discussion on the matter. According to an insider source, another council member offered to provide background information on the Nurse Unit closure but was ruled out by the Chair, Pro-Chancellor Bryan Gray.
The said academic member, Professor Peter Diggle from the School of Health and Medicine subsequently resigned from the Council.
After this resignation Professor Diggle said: “I believe that Lancaster University’s students should have available to them, on campus a single NHS-operated facility that can meet all of their healthcare needs, as an integral component of the University’s overall student experience offering.” He added, “I also believe that this issue is one of a number that are of sufficient strategic importance to warrant open discussion at Council before decisionsare made.”
Macmillan commended Professor Diggle and agreed with him saying: “At a time when the Vice Chancellor is saying Lancaster should be aiming to be more competitive, it makes no sense at all to get rid of yet one more [crucial student] service.” He added, “LUSU will be talking with relevant personnel in the University to determine the next course of action in the coming week.”