THE WEEKLY contraceptive clinic, which is held at the Student Health Service, has been withdrawn temporarily due to staff shortages. The management committee of the Student Health Service made the decision to end the contraceptive clinic for the foreseeable future due to a lack of funding available for additional staff.
The contraceptive clinics are currently running at full capacity and are “booked out… because of reduced resources”, according to Medical Director of the Student Health Service, Dr Sandra Tighe. She described the current situation as “hardly a service”, explaining that there has been an increase in demand for the service however the Student Health Service doesn’t have the funding required for the necessary staff.
Dr Tighe affirmed that health service staff are attempting to reserve resources for students who are ill, maintaining that “we can’t set aside any more time for contraception.” She insisted that “you have to look after the sick people; you can’t ethically or in conscience put prescribing the [contraceptive] pill over sick students”.
Students’ Union (SU) Welfare Offi cer, Conor Fingleton acknowledged that the Student Health Service is “hugely under pressure at the moment”, adding that the withdrawal of the contraceptive clinic is “very unfortunate”, as he is confi dent that this was a popular service with students.
The ongoing funding of the Student Health Service is something that concerns Dr Tighe at present. She explained that the university “don’t have enough funds and I don’t think there are any funds available anywhere else.” If additional funding was made available, “we would put on more clinics and try and facilitate more people”, she said.
A list of alternative services has been provided to students seeking to attend a contraceptive clinic however Dr Tighe contended that students will “have to pay for those alternatives.” The Student Health Service experienced similar pressure relating to the contraceptive clinics last year but Dr Tighe admitted there were “more resources” allowing for substitute doctors to be brought in.
Mr Fingleton hopes to work with the management of the Student Health Service and is confi dent that a subsidised contraceptive clinic could be created with the possibility of running it alongside the SU subsidised STI screening service.
There is currently a waiting list of two weeks for students wishing to see at doctor at the Student Health Service.