STI screening clinic funding delayed


The security of UCD’s subsidised STI screening clinic was threatened last term when its funding was delayed by UCD Students’ Union, The University Observer has learned.

Questioned as to the cause of the delay in funding, Dr Ciara O’Dowd, the doctor in charge of running the service, suggested that the service may have been overlooked by the SU when paying their invoices. The University Observer understands that a clerical mistake is to blame for the delay in funding.

The STI clinic operates on Wednesday and Friday mornings in the Student Health Centre at a charge of €40 per student, which is 50 per cent of the overall cost of the service. The SU subsidises the  remaining 50 per cent of the charge. An invoice is sent to the SU by the clinic at the end of each term and the payment of the last invoice was delayed.

Dr O’Dowd stated that, due to budgetary restrictions, the service is no longer allowed to order anything unless it has money in its account, and explained that the delay in funding “was just kind of putting pressure on us.”

Dr O’Dowd was keen to assert that, in spite of the funding delay, the service continus to run as normal without any delays reported. She was also quick to praise the speed with which the SU Welfare Officer Scott Ahearn responded when alerted to the delay in funding, saying that “on contacting the Students’ Union, we received our funding within a week […] we are very happy with the support we have received from the Students Union.”

The STI screening service was started in the 2007-08 academic year and was relocated from an off-campus site to the Student Health Centre last October. The clinic previously operated out of the private surgery of Dr Ian O’Grady in Donnybrook. This relocation has led to a remodeling of the service’s funding structures.

Dr O’Dowd has praised the clinic’s relocation to its current on-campus site, revealing that student uptake of the service has been “very positive”, and added that plans were in place to continue running the service next year. In this regard, Dr O’Dowd considered the funding delay “to be merely a teething problem and to be expected when any new service is set up.”