Getting Access to Treatment and Medication at Uni
When moving to University, one of the main things you must plan ahead for as an IBD fighter is how you are going to get access to medication, treatment and healthcare professionals. Everyone with Crohns and Colitis has a range of different meds they need access to, some easier to get, others not so easy. I use many different means of delivery including Echo (Newly named Llyods Direct) and Sciencesus (Formally named HealthCare At Home).
I may have a different experience to many others at University as I only moved 1 hour away from home, so personally if I need I can come home to pick up medication, go to hospital appointments or get access to treatment if needed. However, I know the majority of people live between 3-7 hours away from home and so cannot just pop home on a weekend.
If you live far away from home at University it's worth considering changing your GP practise to your new city. Although this can come with some problems as when you're home for Christmas, you are then away from the GP and hence access to them isn't possible. You are more likely to spend the majority of your time at Uni over the 3 years and hence need it to be near you for that time period. However, that being said, The NHS app can save you a lot of hassle in this area.
There is an app owned by the National Health Service in which you can contact your GP online, sort out prescriptions and complete online econsults. As a student it is much easier to fill in an econsult whenever you have a health issue than having to book an appointment and then find a way to get to the GP practise after waiting on a list for a few weeks. You can ask for general advice, prescriptions and ask for further appointments. So, if you would rather stick with you same GP at home and just get the app that would be totally fine.
I have used this app for over 2 years now and it is a complete life saver. Lloyds Direct is an online pharmacy in which you can get your medication and prescriptions delivered straight to your door. This saves you from having to collect a prescription from your GP, then waiting for it to become available at your pharmacy and having to go out and collect it.
All you have to do is sign up on the app, which will mean your selected pharmacy linked with your GP will automatically be switched to Lloyds direct, Order the medication you need, wait for it to be approved by your doctor (If it needs to be), and then it will be delivered to your door as soon as possible.
The app reminds you when you are running low on medication and also if they have a certain time of day that they are recorded to be taken at, you will be notified every time.
One thing I would warn you of is that sometimes it can take a while for the medication to come so make sure you order with plenty of time to spare. (This isn't a regular occurrence, but every so often there are shortages of medication in all pharmacies).
One thing you should always keep an eye out for is after you turn 19 you are no longer exempt from paying for prescriptions. The NHS has a prescription charge of £9.35 per item, which for an IBD fighter will add up to hundreds per month if you aren't careful. There is a way round this at University however! The HC2 certificate will cover the following costs:
free NHS prescriptions
free NHS dental treatment
free NHS sight tests
help with the cost of glasses or contact lenses
help with the cost of travelling to receive NHS treatment
free NHS wigs and fabric supports
Hence, it is perfect as a student with IBD so you don't have to pay for any medication over your education period. However, they only last a year and hence you must renew them every time they run out otherwise you will end up paying again. If you do pay for prescriptions if your certificate has not renewed yet you can claim all that money back. To claim a refund of prescription charges, you'll need an NHS receipt and refund form FP57. Ask for the form when you pay for your prescription.
To claim a refund of other charges, including dental treatment, wigs and fabric supports, sight tests, glasses or contact lenses, and healthcare travel costs, you'll need the relevant HC5 form.
You can ask for HC2 application form from Pharmacies and GP practises (It may be a good idea to get one before you’re 18 so when you turn 19 you can apply straight away) or there are ways of applying online or having a form sent to you.
Sciensus/HealthCare at Home:
When you start a treatment you should be assigned a delivery service to send you your injections (If that is your form of treatment). I was assigned Sciensus. They deliver my Stelara injections to my door, along with sharps bins and any other treatment accessories I need. They also will take away any sharps I have and dispose of medical waste for me.
I personally do my self injections alone, however I know many people struggle to do this and Sciensus offer the option of a nurse coming to help you each time if you need, I asked for this fir the 1st 2 times injecting and my nurses were incredibly friendly and helped me feel confident to self inject. When I moved to University they were still able to send my medication to me and I didn't have to change delivery services. (I believe they're nationwide and even delivered across other countries in the world too, so going to University does not impact them). They have recently launched an App called Sciensus InTouch which is designed to make ordering your treatment even easier.
I couldn't recommend these apps more to help make your life at university with IBD much easier. I don't think it's worth changing hospitals and doctors if you're comfortable with your team. Now that these apps are available, there really isn't a need. However, this all depends on how far away you live from your home.
Luce :) x