"A crazy three tier queue"

About: Devon Access and Referral Team (DART)

(as the patient),

A new booking system in the South Hams means that my doctor told the surgery to send me a form with details of how to book my appointment through an new system. I waited for 10 days for this to arrive. When it arrived I acted immediately. I had to call DART (Devon Access and Referral Team) who said they'd send my details to the hospital where I'd be seen, and to wait for a letter or a call from them. It has now been a week since that call, and just over 2 weeks from seeing my GP, and I still haven't been given an appointment with my hospital.

Has this new system been put in place to reduce waiting lists?

I am in considerable pain and the wait, without been given a date to look forward to, has been frustrating.

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Response from Susan Pearce, Project Support Manager, DART (Devon Access & Referral Team), NHS Devon

Dear ‘Mermaid’

Thank you for taking the time to contact us and let us know about your experience. It is always helpful for us to get feedback from the patients point of view and we try our best to use all the information we receive to try and improve our service.

I can appreciate that this must have been a very frustrating experience for you and I’m sorry about that. Unfortunately, we here at DART can only book the services that have appointments showing on our system and if none are, all we can do is offer you an alternative hospital or put you on a waiting list and it sounds like this is what happened to you. The usual reason for no appointments being available is that the clinic in question is under a lot of pressure and the appointments all become booked up very quickly and they don’t get a chance to make more available in time. The hospitals in the area all suffer from this problem from time to time and they are all working hard to try to stop it from happening as they realise that it is far from ideal for patients. The hospitals all aim to contact the patient within 2 weeks of their conversation with us to offer them an appointment.

In case you are concerned about it, I would also like to mention to you that we do keep a record of when you started your wait for treatment and you won’t be made to wait any longer overall because appointments were not available when you called. The information is all passed over to the hospital and they will ensure that you get seen in turn according to when you started waiting, not when you were given the appointment.

In answer to your question, this new system has not been put in place to reduce the waiting lists but rather to try and ensure patients are offered a suitable choice of services and to provide patients with the information they require to help them make that choice. Because of what we do, we are also in an ideal situation to help hospitals monitor the situation with appointments not being available and are doing so.

If you would like to talk to someone at DART about any remaining issues with your referral you can contact our Choose & Book Helpline on 01626 883888.

Kind regards,


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