Average Student Support Service waiting times have been reduced to just seven days, with the waiting list for students seeking counselling reaching zero. This follows reports from Concrete earlier this year that average waiting times for counselling hit 41 days, with students waiting more than 60 days to receive support.
SU Welfare, Community and Diversity Officer India Edwards praised the decreased figures. She said the Student Union “stressed in meetings with the University this week that as the end of term gets closer, students need and expect sufficient resources to go in so that both target and actual wait times to be seen and get help reduce to days, not weeks.”
Concrete understands a protest against the waiting times was planned for last month. The protest would have been outside the Student Support Service building and seen students queue to represent the waiting times. Many students welcomed the news, however some feel it is too little too late following their experiences. Second year student Anna questioned the procedures that lead to the service’s previously high figures.
She said she felt the reason waiting times were so low was “because so many of us have given up.”
After being “ignored” for several months the service redirected her to the NHS, something that was not an option for her due to her dual-citizenship – meaning she would have to pay for the services through insurance. She said this left her feeling “shoved around the system to always be someone else’s problem”, and stressed that if the SSS (Student Support Service) had “genuinely done their job properly there wouldn’t be people like me questioning why we’re not important enough.”
Second-year student Harvey shared a worryingly similar experience, saying that being redirected to the NHS after weeks of waiting for an appointment for serious mental health based circumstances was “a knock when he didn’t need it.”
He said he was “aware the Student Support Service is under a lot of stress and wouldn’t want to blame any individual or even the service as a whole” but that “they need more resources so they can deal with everyone, and so they don’t have to reject people in that way.”
Addressing the news of the decreased figures, Director of Student Support Service Dr John Sharp said: “There were a number of reasons why waiting times were unacceptably high, some of these could be resolved swiftly, while other elements required more detailed analysis and review of processes in order to fully identify them and provide a more responsive service.”
He added that these key changes included “a revision to the initial booking procedures, improvements in the way we schedule appointments, amendments to the management of student facing diaries, improvements to student needs assessment and the initial triage processes.”