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The NHS: Struggling with Overwork and Underfunding

University of Aberdeen Students Speak Out About Their Experiences

By Lana Novak

Getting healthcare in the UK can be tricky for students. From struggling to get timely care for conditions like PMDD to facing administrative problems and a lack of understanding, students deal with unique challenges in the NHS. This article highlights the difficulties the University of Aberdeen students face while attempting to access NHS services to draw attention to this issue.


Struggling with PMDD Support:

"I have a condition called PMDD, which is like really bad PMS. I wanted to talk to my GP about getting some help or tests. But when he called me back a week later, he said testing hormone levels wasn't possible, which I know isn't true. It took some negotiating, but I finally got a general blood test, and they said everything was normal. Since then, I haven't gotten any support.

I'm also going for tests for POTS and EDS later this year, so I might have more stories to share about my experiences with the healthcare system."

A dark pharmacy with a large sign reading 'prescriptions' in all caps above the counter.
Photograph courtesy of Patrick Tomasso via Unsplash

Food Poisoning:

"Last year, I had terrible food poisoning. It was so severe that I couldn't keep anything down for two weeks, and I became too weak to walk properly. After being sick for a week with no improvement, I contacted my GP at Old Aberdeen Medical Practice for help. They instructed me to come in for tests to check for common causes of food poisoning. It was a struggle for me to get there because I was so exhausted and felt sick. The doctor didn't see or talk to me when I finally arrived. They only collected a stool sample and sent it to the lab for testing.

Unfortunately, no one assisted in giving me a sample tube and instructing me to return it. They didn't inquire about my symptoms or whether I needed additional medication. Despite being extremely unwell, I didn't receive any help. The only person I spoke to was the receptionist, who assured me I would receive a call once the tests were done. However, that call never came.

After a few days, I contacted them to inquire about the results. The GP informed me that the tests showed nothing was wrong. That was the extent of the information provided. I didn't receive any medicine, a diagnosis, advice, or even direct assistance from a doctor. It was a frustrating and disheartening experience."

Dental Problems:

"I had dental problems in the last couple of months. It was tough for me to get antibiotics and an emergency appointment, even when my face was in severe pain due to a tooth infection. I had to pay twice in the last couple of months, once for antibiotics and once for a root canal treatment."

Wrong Prescription:

"I asked for a specific type of medication and was prescribed something completely different that isn't even licensed for use in my case unless informed consent from the patient is acquired (which they hadn't gotten from me). I refused to take it and asked for a different type of medication over the phone and was prescribed one within about two minutes. I picked it up from the pharmacy and read the note, and it was medication I was not supposed to take with my medical history.

So definitely a case of people not having enough time to devote to each patient and making decisions that could be dangerous if the person hadn't researched their prescriptions like I did and just trusted their doctor."


The University of Aberdeen students' difficulties in accessing healthcare services highlight systemic issues within the UK's National Health Service (NHS). These personal accounts illustrate a range of difficulties, from struggles with obtaining essential treatments for conditions like PMDD to instances of miscommunication, potential dangers arising from incorrect prescriptions, and challenges with dental care.

One issue of concern is the seeming disconnect between patients and healthcare providers. 

This is demonstrated by cases where responses to health concerns have been delayed or inadequate.

The NHS is facing significant challenges due to understaffing, underfunding, and overwork. The time constraints during patient interactions can lead to incorrect prescriptions, posing risks for patients. The student's account of receiving a prescription not suitable for their medical history, and the subsequent quick correction over the phone, highlights the pressure healthcare professionals might face to address patient concerns promptly, potentially compromising the quality of care.

Moreover, the lack of support for dental issues, as mentioned in the statement above, highlights the systemic difficulties in accessing affordable and timely dental care through the NHS. The difference in care speed between public and private sectors highlights challenges in the former. The financial burden for both antibiotics and the subsequent root canal underscores limitations in accessibility and promptness within public healthcare.

This personal journey highlights systemic issues in public healthcare and emphasizes the need for improved accessibility to dental care. The experience emphasizes the importance of timely interventions, urging considerations for reforms that can enhance the efficiency of the public healthcare system.

The problem is not confined to students of the University of Aberdeen alone; it reflects a larger systemic issue within the NHS. The shortage of resources in the healthcare system impairs its ability to deliver quality care, resulting in overworked staff and insufficient funding for essential services.

Students, who are already managing the demands of academia, find themselves caught in a predicament where accessing basic healthcare becomes an additional source of stress.

To ensure that patients, including students, receive timely and comprehensive care, it is crucial to advocate for systemic reforms within the NHS. This involves calling for increased funding, staffing, and improved communication channels. Access to healthcare is a fundamental human right, and efforts must be made to rectify these systemic shortcomings that hinder students from focusing on their studies without the added burden of struggling to access essential medical care.





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