"What’s going on with the referral service?"

About: Devon Referral Support Services

(as a service user),

What’s going on with the referral service? It doesn’t appear to be working. I phoned last Tuesday after I received my letter, and I’ve phoned every day since but haven’t got through.

All I can hear is a recorded message. The fallback option doesn’t actually give any information. I feel they’ve started a new service which has had problems from the start. It’s not good enough.

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Response from Rachael Burridge, Head of Operations and Reporting, DRSS, NEW Devon CCG

Dear ‘Peer223’

Thank you for taking the time to feed back your experience, and apologies for the frustration and confusion being caused to you.

As you are aware from our phone message there are ongoing issues with the national NHS e-Referral system, formerly Choose and Book, which mean that DRSS are unable to book your appointment with you in the normal way.

The teething problems with the e-Referrals system mean that the system is running much slower than normal and it is taking much longer than usual to handle each booking. With up to 7,000 bookings a week to make, a backlog has started to form.

There is no information currently from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), which provides the new software, about when the system will be running again normally.

In summary:

• Alternative arrangements are now in place with local hospitals to ensure that your referral isn’t delayed during this period.

• Referrals are being reviewed in the normal way and DRSS, or your local hospital, will be in contact with you regarding your appointment as soon as possible.

• People who need a rapid referral, such as those patients with suspected cancer, will continue to be seen within two weeks.

We have updated our phone message this morning to reflect the current booking process (the section highlighted in bold above) and this now includes a link to the DRSS helpdesk number (01626 883 888). Although the helpdesk can’t book appointments they will be able to answer other queries relating to referrals.

If you would like me to look into your referral to see at what stage it’s at perhaps you could call me on 07971 149 644 or email me at rachael.burridge@nhs.net so we can get some more details.

Apologies once again for the frustration this situation is causing.

All the best

Rachael Burridge

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Response from Peter Brain, Volunteer, Healthwatch Devon

Dear 'Peer223'

The comments and responses on the web-site of Patient Opinion are shared with us at Healthwatch.

Thank you for responding to what was clearly a frustrating experience. Do take advantage of the direct line offered by Rachael Burridge and I hope you are able to receive the treatment you need. At Healthwatch we are building a picture of the provision of services in Devon and these comments should help the NHS and other providers develop and improve their services.

If you wish to discuss this experience or any other health or social care issues with us in confidence, including seeking advice or information about services, please call (free-phone) 0800 520 0640, or email info@healthwatchdevon.co.uk or go on-line to www.healthwatchdevon.co.uk.

Yours sincerely

Peter Brain


Healthwatch Devon is the consumer champion for Health and Social Care in Devon.

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