"I could speak directly to Exeter"

About: Devon Access and Referral Team (DART)

(as the patient),

I have just called the Devon DART team to arrange a appointment. I saw my GP over two weeks ago, they said a letter would be sent out to me. Which is was, two weeks later. It had a number for the DART service which was wrong so I phone Patient Opinion and they kindly gave me the right number.

When I spoke to DART they said they'd speak to Exeter to organise a date and I would hear within four weeks. I do not see how this is helpful, I could speak directly to Exeter. It is a waste of time and money.

I have waited a year and a half for a diagnosis now I'm waiting for a hospital appointment which could be 10 weeks after my GP appointment

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

Dear ‘ceramic787’,

Thank you for taking the time to contact us and apologies for the frustration you must have experienced. We appreciate all feedback and we try our best to use the information to improve our service.

Regarding the time it took for our details to reach you, it is possible that your GP surgery were waiting for test results before making a referral in order to find out which service they should refer you to. If you do not believe that this is the case, please feel free to contact me with the name of your GP surgery and I will happily contact them to pass on your concerns about the time delay as they should be sending these details out to patients more speedily. I would not need your personal information, just the name of the surgery, and I could also then check with them that they have our details registered correctly.

I can’t be sure without more details but it sounds like your referral needed to be sent to a Clinical Assessment Service which are services currently in place at some of the local hospitals for Cardiology and Gastroenterology clinics. Usually, when a patient phones DART, we are able to offer a choice of hospitals and view the appointments at each hospital and the patient can book a suitable appointment there and then. However, there are a few specialities where there are a range of diagnostic tests frequently required and the correct clinic for the patient is not obvious to a non-clinician. In these cases some hospitals choose to not allow us to book the referral but to get a specialist to check the referral first and book the appointment themselves to avoid having to change it later which would obviously inconvenience the patient. These services ask us to advise patients that they will hear from the hospital directly within 4 weeks which is why I think this is what happened to you.

The reason that your referral was sent via DART, and not directly to the Royal Devon and Exeter by your GP, is so that patients can be offered a choice of hospitals. Had your GP referred you straight to the RD&E, they would still have told you that they would contact you within 4 weeks with an appointment for the same reasons as I’ve described above.

I hope that this has answered your queries but if you would like to talk to someone at DART about any remaining issues with your referral please feel free to contact our Patient Helpline on 01626 883888.

Kind regards,


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