"My experience of the new referral service"
About: Devon Access and Referral Team (DART) Devon Access and Referral Team (DART) Exeter EX1 1PQ
Posted by Colourful244 (as ),
I visited my GP and was told that they recommended I see a consultant. I have only recently moved to the area so this is the first time I've been referred to our local hospitals. I was told that the system now in place for referral to a consultant was the DART team, who I understand liaise between your GP and the hospital to find a convenient appointment. I was told that they would send out a letter to me to instruct on the next steps.
I received the letter last Friday, so called the DART number and was told that as yet no letter had arrived from my GP so I would have to wait. They explained that they would be in touch or I could ring them.
At this point I queried a point printed in the letter about having a choice of consultant. I asked how I would know who to choose given that I have not yet had any contact with a consultant in the area. The person on the phone said that all would be explained once they had the letter from my GP.
What happened wasn't quite like this.
I received a message on my answerphone so I called the DART team and there seemed to be such a big hurry on the phone. It was towards the end of the day so I had to wonder whether the person was desperate to get home! I was immediately offered an appointment at Torbay Hospital in October with a particular consultant. I almost felt from the rush on the telephone call that I couldn't do anything but accept this but I did stop them and I asked what were my choices. The person on the end of the phone said that I could go anywhere in the country, which I don't find particularly helpful. I explained that of the two local hospitals, I would prefer to go to Exeter as my friend had recommended a consultant to me. The person on the end of the line seemed a little reluctant, but then said that they could arrange an appointment with this consultant but there may be a wait. I said I could wait, and was offered an appointment in December.
I have one concern, a question and a suggestion!
My concern with this system is that I felt rushed on the phone call and although the letter states that you have a choice as to where you're referred, I didn't really feel that my opinion was welcomed. I imagine that had I been any more shy or perhaps elderly, I wouldn't have felt comfortable interjecting and would probably have just accepted the appointment whether it suited me or not. I think someone could easily be made to feel flumoxed in this position. I recognise that DART is a new service but I feel that this could be improved.
My question is who made the decision to send me to Torbay initially, and what criteria did they use? I'd find this information really useful, and I'm sure others would to. Is the decision made on a financial basis, or is it about availability of appointments? At times when I've been referred to a consultant in the past, I have been able to discuss my options with my GP and we have made a decision between us. I would certainly prefer that the person who makes a decision like this on my behalf is medically trained, but I suspect that they are perhaps not.
My humble suggestion would be that I wonder if it is possible to list possible options online so that you have time to look at each option and make an informed choice. I understand that not everyone is online but most people are nowadays and this seems like a sensible way to offer choice.