By Elisa O’Donovan
UCD ARE planning to introduce a fee of ?20 per visit, each time a student uses the health service on campus. Presently, students are not charged when they see the doctor/nurse, but pay a fee towards the health service annually in their registration fee. The health service is vital for the students of UCD.
It provides year long access to all types of medical treatment, from medical emergencies to a contraception clinic. The centre is paramount to maintaining both the physical and mental well being of all students on campus.
However, for a number of years the student health service has been chronically under-funded, with a minimum waiting time of two weeks to see a doctor. The college’s response to the lack of resourses and medical staff in the centre is to charge students each time they see a doctor/nurse. However, forcing students to pay for their health care is not the answer. A health service fee will only further isolate students from seeing a doctor.
When asked why no university money is being put into a service so central to students’ well being, UCD said there was “no extra money” to put into funding the student health service. Yet last year, UCD authorities spent ?4million on PR firm fees, in order to sell the UCD “brand”. The college is also spending millions of euro in renovating the campus with plush new plants, water features and plasma screens throughout the university.
Is it right that in a college of 20,000 students there’s only one psychiatrist available one afternoon a week, with a two month waiting list? Or that a student struggling to pay their rent with a chronic condition such as epilepsy or depression will have to pay €20 each time they need medical attention?
Students have successfully fought back against the college before. When library cutbacks were threatened hundreds of students took action with a library sit-in resulting in an extended library service. Student protests have also continually prevented the reintroduction of 3rd level fees. UCD students must get organised to defend their health service and demand that it is properly funded by the college authorities.