Exclusive: Unity Health phone lines haven’t been working properly since the start of term

Students have been left unable to book appointments

Issues with the Unity Health phone lines have left students unable to arrange appointments since the beginning of term, The Tab can exclusively reveal.

This has meant many York students have been unable to receive the treatment they need. Issues with the phone lines have been present since the first week of summer term, nearly a month ago.

Some students have also been unable to gain the evidence needed for their exceptional circumstances claim.

The Tab spoke to a number of students about the issues they've faced attempting to use the service, requesting to remain anonymous given the sensitivity of the issue.

One Halifax student told The Tab: “[Up]on getting back to York, I tried to immediately book an appointment but after more than an hour of non-stop calling and the phone line constantly ringing out before being engaged, I just gave up”.

Another showed us a screenshots of some of the 100 failed calls she apparently made in one afternoon to the surgery.

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While for many students the phone issues only meant the inconvenience of having to go to Hes East, the consequences for others have been more severe.

A Derwent first year told the Tab they rang Unity Health in order to gain the evidence needed for their exceptional circumstances claim and despite ringing many times on different days they were met only with ‘user busy’ or, after a long time on hold, the dial tone.

The student reports that their mental ill health that resulted in the exceptional circumstances claim being necessary also prevented them from making an appointment in person and consequently their department has rejected the claim so far.

Yet another student said: "I was super ill at the beginning of this term and couldn't get an appointment no matter how hard I tried, even after going there multiple times and telling them I'd been referred for an emergency appointment.

"I ended up having to go private and spending nearly £200 just on blood tests."

The newly launched £2.5 million Unity Health East surgery was intended to reduce waiting times for students, and was built to replace the old surgery on Hes West.

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The new Unity Health surgery on Heslington East campus

Louise Johnston, Managing Partner at Unity Health, told York Press the Hes East surgery would be the "newest and most up to date primary healthcare centre in York". However, one regular student user of the service told The Tab: "Unity Health is worse than ever".

Opening just in time for summer term to commence, Unity Health East was promised by the Head of Student Support Services Peter Quinn to reduce waiting times for students as the larger facility could cater for the growing student population.

The facility is equipped with sixteen new consultation rooms, medical rooms fitted for minor surgery, four electronic patient check-in terminals and a waiting room of more than twice the capacity of the old site.

Some initially speculated on social media that despite the huge increase in reported incidents, the dropped calls and inability to make an appointment was just the usual oversubscribed Unity Health at work.

However, a week into term on the 25th of April, Unity Health announced they had “raised this with BT, they are trying to resolve the problem as soon as they can."

Unity Health also said they would, “provide regular updates on our website regarding this”. Since Unity Health’s announcement, three weeks have passed with no updates despite persistent complaints.

Unity Health have been contacted for comment.

The University of York have been contacted for comment.

We want to hear your experiences of using Unity Health, please either email [email protected] or fill out our confidential form below:

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