"Difficulty in booking an appointment and long waiting times"

About: Devon Access and Referral Team (DART)

(as the patient),

I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in November 2013 and was recommended by my GP to attend a couple of 2 hour long educations sessions. The specialist doctor I had seen had also told me about these events and explained that they would tell me how to monitor and manage my condition.

I was given the number for the Devon Referral Support Service, each time I poned I was told I ‘would be hearing shortly’. In mid March I was told I was at the top of the list and should expect to be called for my first session in a week’s time. This did not happen.

I left it for a few weeks and called again on early May, this time I spoke to Sally Jackson, who informed me an appointment would be fixed.

I subsequently received a letter with an appointment only to receive another letter a few days later stating the appointment had been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. As the letter invited me to call for further information I did so. I was told the lady who ran the courses was employed on a contractual basis; she had broken her arm and was unable to run the events for the next 7 weeks.

Presumably I’m not the only patient in these circumstances?

Information in the media shows that diabetes is on the increase, so it seems odd that only one person can deliver a service with such a growing demand.

I tried to make another appointment for these events though a different contact number, when I explained my situation I was given to understand that it was important that people diagnosed with diabetes should ideally be seen within 18 weeks. Although they could not make an appointment for me the lady I spoke to advised me to go back to my GP and ask for an urgent referral.

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Response from Project Support Manager - Devon Referral Support Services, Devon Access & Referral Team (DART)

Dear Civil846,

Thank you very much for your comments, we are very grateful to you for taking the time to feed back to us. I am trying to find out the answers to your questions and will post a full response shortly.

Best wishes,

Susan Pearce

Response from Project Support Manager - Devon Referral Support Services, Devon Access & Referral Team (DART)

Dear Civil846,

I am sorry that you had to phone on a number of occasions before you got an appointment. I have checked with the team who book this service and it has been fully subscribed for some time so we have had to keep a waiting list of patients. I can assure you that patients are contacted in the order that they are put on the waiting list and we will have given you an appointment as soon as one was available.

Regarding your queries about the service itself, I have contacted our commissioning team and they have asked me to pass on the message below.

Best wishes,

Susan Pearce, Devon Referral Support Services

“Thank you for letting us know your story and sorry this has been your experience with our diabetes education programme. Diabetes is an important element of care, particularly with an older and aging population within the Eastern locality.

Our diabetes education service began in 2012 under a pilot scheme and unfortunately due to a number of issues at the inception of the service a large number of referrals were received which were not catered for in a timely manner which led to a large wait for some patients. Additional funding was made available to clear the waiting list and extend the service. Since this issue arose we have altered the contract with our service provider to ensure all patients referred are managed in a timely manner.

Our understanding from our education provider was there would be adequate cover for sickness and emergencies which unfortunately has not been the case in this situation despite their efforts to obtain cover to provide the quality service they wish to deliver over this period. We are working with them to develop a mitigation plan for this situation in future which includes training additional staff.”

Service Design and Delivery Manager