Living's guide to the Students' Health Service



By Josie Roberts, Online Living Editor

Are you signed up with the Students’ Health Service? With winter coming, and colds, cases of flu and coughs becoming more and more common, we thought it would be a good idea to give you some useful information about the Students’ Health Service.

As of the 1st October 2018, the number of registered students were 17,721 and so navigating this hugely subscribed health service comes with its difficulties. Fear no more as we are here to help!

Be in the know about appointments

Have you woken up feeling less than peachy? Do you think you’re not going to be seen until 2 weeks later? Actually the Students’ Health Service operates same-day appointments every weekday for urgent and non-urgent problems. Same day appointments can be booked from 8:45am. The reception staff are all trained to triage requests for urgent appointments so that patients are offered an appointment appropriate to clinical need. Therefore if you are ever worried about not getting an appointment because it’s always really busy, if your need is great enough, you will be seen! As the Information Commissioners Office have said: “Medical emergencies are always accommodated.”

For problems that are not so urgent and can wait, you can book for these in advance. There is no set limit for how far in advance you book and at the start of any academic term the Students’ Health Service will have appointments available right up until the end of term. For appointments booked in advance, average wait time for routine appointments in term-time is 2-3 weeks and this reduces in university holiday time to 1-2 days!

Need an appointment? Click here.

Know who to see

With 15 part-time GPs, 2 full-time nurses, and 5 part-time nurses, the Students’ Health Service aren’t low on staff. However with certain periods throughout the term being busier than others, it’s important to know who to see.

As can be seen in the Guide to Students’ Health Service:

“Our nursing team deal with a wide range of problems including coughs & colds, sore throats, flu, wounds and injuries, urinary infections, eye problems and can offer advice on a range of other matters including contraception and sexual health. We have 5 nurse prescribers who can issue prescriptions for certain medicines, including contraception. We also have specialist nurses for asthma, diabetes and travel health.”

So if there are no appointments with a doctor but there are with a nurse, and your symptoms can be dealt with by a nurse as detailed above, don’t hesitate to book with a nurse. Or if you originally wanted to see a doctor and have symptoms than can be dealt with by a nurse, request a nurse, as that will free up doctor’s times for people who specifically need to see a doctor.

Make sure you have signed up for the online service

Of the nearly 18,000 students signed up to the Student Health Service, only 2061 are registered online. Thats 12% of students signed up! Having access to booking appointments online will clearly make your life a lot easier. If you’re already registered to the Students’ Health Service, all you need is to contact the Appointments Desk to register for online access and obtain your PIN.

Know what to do when the surgery is closed

According to the Guide, you have a few options.

  1. Overnight, at weekends and on public holidays, a doctor is always on call for emergencies. The number for this is: (0117) 330 2721.
  2. NHS 111 also provides 24 hour medical advice. You dial 111 to access. From experience what happens is you chat to someone about your symptoms to see what level of support you need. From then, they will offer you advice appropriate to your needs or ask you to wait to hear from a nurse within the hour. From then, if a doctor’s opinion is needed, you may be called by an out of hours doctor and from then they will offer you advice or get you an out of hours appointment. Obviously, if your symptoms get worse and it turns out you are in a medical emergency, head to A&E or if you cannot get there, call 999.
  3. There is also a Walk-in Centre located at Boots, Broadmead.
  4. Your local pharmacist can also provide you with advice on a range of minor ailments and emergency contraception.


University of Bristol / Students' Health Service

Not signed up with the Students’ Health Service? Register here.

Need to contact the Students’ Health Service? Click here.

Featured image: Flickr / Tim Green

Do you use the Students’ Health Service? Was this useful for you? We want to hear from you!

Facebook / Epigram / Twitter


Josie Roberts

Online Living Editor 2017/18 and 2018/19 Studying English