"Why must one stay with the pain clinic that you first attend?"

About: Devon Access and Referral Team (DART)

(as the patient),

I am trying to get an appointment with a pain clinic. My local clinic has a wait of approx ten weeks (I've already been waiting over two). A not so near one has a very slightly shorter waiting period. I was told by DART that I must stay with whichever clinic I start out with.

My question is why?

Has not an enourmous amount of money been spent on technology so that every medic we see knows about every visit to every other medic? Don't doctors write, fax each and email one other? I attend several unrealated clincs at different hospitals around the country and even at the same clinic I can see a different doctor every time. He or she reads my records and can call up my x-rays etc on their screens- or read copies of letters .

Those seeking appointments with pain clinics usually do so because they are in pain. It's not like waiting for a convenient slot for straigteneing out a nose or suchlike. Time matters - and many of us are getting on and the clock is ticking. We want to make a start on getting the right treatment/medication asap and enjoy the rest of our lives. Why, if it helps us access treatment earlier, do we not have the choice (there's a meaningless NHS word in my opinion) to start treatment wherever we can get it quickest, and then have follow up more locally. The rule that we must stay with the clinic we start off with seems unjustifiable, lets have real choice.

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

Dear ‘lifeisnotarehersal’,

Thank you for taking the time to contact us and I’m sorry that you are unhappy with the service offered.

The main reason that hospitals prefer patients to stay with one service, and this applies particularly to Pain Management clinics, is for continuity of care. If a patient repeatedly sees the same team of specialists, then a rapport can be built up between them and this makes it easier to put a treatment plan in place.

Patient notes can, of course, be passed between clinicians and so if you decide to leave one service and go to another (e.g. if you move house) your records will be passed on but the new service will want to start their own file and, in order to be thorough will take the basic information from you again, which introduces a time element into the equation. However, this is very much secondary to quality of care and the general consensus is that seeing the same clinician/team whenever possible will provide patients with a smoother path to recovery.

Having said all of that, some smaller community clinics are part of larger nearby services run by the same clinicians and, in those instances, hospitals are usually happy to let you swap appointments between locations if it is more convenient to the patient. Without knowing which hospital you have opted to be treated at I cannot say for sure if this is the case for you but if you would like to contact our Patient Helpdesk on 01626 883888 we would be happy to look into it for you.

I hope this goes some way to answering your question.

Kind regards,


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