"Orthopaedic Referal"

About: Devon Access and Referral Team (DART)

(as the patient),

I saw my GP at the beginning of September with a hip problem which I had had for about four months and which was getting much worse (I had already had an X-ray which was seen by two Consultant Orthopaedic surgeons and a Trauma surgeon and all agreed that I needed a hip replacement. However, my GP felt I had pulled a muscle and referred me to Physiotherapy which made it worse). They then agreed to refer me for an Orthopaedic opinion at my local hospital in North Devon.

On the Monday I received a letter from something called DART (Devon Access and Referral Team) with a UBRN (Unique Booking Reference Number) and a Password (clip jelly!) so I telephoned the number and a very kind lady asked me some questions and then told me, somewhat bewilderingly, that she would be sending the referral letter the next day to my local hospital to be assessed, when they had returned it she would then telephone me to arrange an appointment.

On the Thursday a lady phoned from Dart (not the same lady) to tell me they would be sending my referral letter to my local hospital in the next few days.

As yet I have heard nothing from the hospital or Dart.

I understand that the country has many old timers like me and in my opinion not enough facilities for us all but I would have thought that this seems a quite unnecessary layer, so to speak, to have to go through. Meanwhile, I am still here, in some little pain, not knowing what is happening. No-one, it seems can give me any information. Oh well!

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

Dear ‘sukinata’,

Thank you very much for contacting us to let us know about your experience. I’m sorry that it seemed like a waste of time to you.

In the majority of cases, when a patient phones DART we offer a choice of hospital and, once the patient has chosen, we then offer a choice of available dates and times. In the case of North Devon District Hospital, they have asked that, for some specialities, they be allowed to view the referral and advise us where to book the patient. They only do this for a few specialities, one of which is orthopaedics, and the reason behind it is to make sure that the clinics are all appropriately used and try to avoid the patient having to be re-booked at a later date. Once they have advised us of the correct clinic, we can then usually offer the patient a choice of date and times and book the appointment with them over the phone.

However, as I suspect happened in your case, some services can become congested due to a large number of referrals, all of the appointments get booked and we then have no choice but to forward the patient’s details on to that hospital so that they can book the patient an appointment as soon as more become available. Sometimes this involves the hospital organising an extra clinic to accommodate the waiting patients. This is not how the system is supposed to work and we realise that it is very frustrating for patients. We keep in constant touch with the local hospitals regarding this issue and we are doing all we can to help them resolve it.

I hope that this response has answered your queries. If you would like us to find out what is happening with your referral now, please contact our helpdesk on 01626 883888 and we will be happy to find out for you.

Kind regards,


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