Student Welfare: Access to First-Aid

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The alleged inefficiency of the Counselling Service is not the first issue taken with the standard of student wellbeing provision at Lancaster University.

The Nurse Unit was a 24 hour front line first aid service, and the first port of call in an emergency. In late 2010, it was closed as part of a series of cuts to NHS provision. Outcry from LUSU was ignored; outcry from students was non-existent because they didn’t know until it was too late.

The process in the case of an emergency was to convey the student to the Nurse Unit via the aid of a college porter. Now that the Unit no longer exists, the onus is upon the college porter to provide first aid care and await the arrival of an ambulance, which has been known to exceed two hours.

Bear in mind three things: college porters are not medical professionals and only have basic first aid training; the portering service was also reduced in 2010; and some colleges have over a thousand undergraduates living in them. Add to this the additional responsibilities of porters and the stretching of Lancaster’s medical resources, and we are left with a near total lack of access both to immediate first aid care from an experienced professional and to other services such as pregnancy support.

The quality of physical and mental healthcare offered by the University may seem unrelated to each other. But it was agreed at a 2010 University Management Committee meeting that Student Based Services would “increase the amount of resources targeted on student well-being in the area of mental health” were the Unit to be closed. It is odd that the University would cut first aid care to fund ‘increased’ mental health care; one wonders why we cannot have both.

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