In March 2019 the Student Health Centre announced that Guildowns Group Medical Practice has stopped accepting new patients. The hold on new patients is still in action, and given that the University will welcome an influx of new students later this month, this is predicted to cause a few issues among first year students who will be moving to Guildford, potentially from long distances and abroad. All students should have received an email regarding this situation which contained information on four suggested replacement GPs. I spoke with the Student Union’s VP Support Sarah Surget to find out more about this issue and what the union is doing to aid any affected students.
The Guildowns Group currently has around 24,000 registered patients, however when the cap was introduced, the total number was 26,500. Sarah informed me of some of the reasons why this drop has occurred. For example, when a student graduates university or drops out, it is likely that they then register with a GP that’s closer to their home. This automatically removes their registration them from the Guildowns practice. A similar process happens with students who are from non-EU countries who are here on VISAs. Once the VISA expires, the student is no longer registered with the GP. However, these processes do not happen for students from the EU as there is no automated system to de-register you if you move to another country. Using this process and looking at people who have graduated and/or moved away from Guildford and not de-registered, Guildowns were able to cut down the amount of patients they had by 2,500.
The university of Surrey has around 16,000 students according to their statistics from the 2018-19 academic year (1). Of these 16,000 students, 9% have reported having a disability (1). For confidentiality reasons, no specifics of what disability is most common are listed. Many people with disabilities need regular medication and therefore, regular access to a GP. Unfortunately, Sarah confirmed that the Guildowns group do not have any exceptions that are relevant for students. She advises new and returning students to register at one of the four other GP surgeries that are within walking distance of the university. These surgeries are Woodbridge Hill Surgery, Dapdune House Surgery, Fairlands Medical Practice and St Luke’s Surgery. All addresses are listed below. For those who cannot walk long distances, the best transport links to get from the university to each GP clinic are listed below as well. Sarah has suggested that the most likely GP surgery for students is Woodbridge Hill as they have an online registration process, an e-consult service and have confirmed that they will take a couple thousand students. For those who do not know which surgery will be best for them, a member of staff will be located in the MySurrey Hive for a month after the start of term to discuss your case personally. If there continue to be issues after this first month, the member of staff will be kept on for as long as feasibly possible.
Currently, this is set to be a long standing issue. The Guildowns medical group only has 1/3 of the space needed for its desired amount of patients. In order to accommodate this number of people, they are looking at building another GP in Guildford, potentially near Manor Park. This, however, is not an immediate fix and will take a long time to sort out.
While this remains a serious issue for those requiring large amounts of prescriptions, the SU has a couple temporary solutions. The main one is registering at one of the suggested GPs previously mentioned. As well as this, there will be a sexual health nurse every other Wednesday in the Centre for Wellbeing who can do STD screening and provide information regarding contraception. Samaritans will also be on campus in the Hive from 2pm until 4pm every Sunday. They will also be in the Hive during Fresher’s week, week one and week five between 6:30pm and 9:30pm. Sarah is also launching a Positive Minds support group for students with anxiety and depression. It will involve weekly sessions and will take place over the course of six weeks. This, as well as the currently existing centre for wellbeing, should help reduce the load on GP clinics in terms of mental health.
For further information, please see the Student Union website, the university website or any member of the Student Union staff. Information will also be provided in person at Fresher’s Fair.
Replacement GP Surgery information:
Woodbridge Hill Surger
Tel: 01483 573194
Travel: From the bus stop on southway, next to the chicken shop, the GP is a 4 minute bus ride away and a 2 minute walk from the bus stop after that.
Dapdune House Surgery
Tel: 01483 400200
Travel: A 10 minute bus ride and a 10 minute walk from campus
Fairlands Medical Practice
Tel: 01483 594250
Travel: Catch the #1 bus from AP building, change at Peterborough Road to the KITE bus until Fairlands Estate. The GP is then a 5 minute walk from the bus stop. Total travel time is approximately 40 minutes.
St Luke’s Surgery
Tel: 01483 510030
Travel: Catch the #1 to the Friary (approximately 10 minutes) and then a 20 minute walk.
- University of Surrey, 2019, Student Key Facts 2018 - 19, https://www.surrey.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2019-01/student-key-facts-2018-19.pdf