"Why do you have to see a nurse before you get a referral?"

About: Devon Access and Referral Team (DART) Torbay Hospital / Trauma and orthopaedics

(as the patient),

I hurt my shoulder in a fall and I am now waiting to see a specialist at Torbay.

However I have to say that I feel the DART process is an over-bureaucratic waste of my time and the health service's precious resources.

Why do you have to see a nurse for blood test, body weight check, blood pressure etc before you can even ask for a referral? When you ring up to make an appointment with the specialist the DART team have to process you, why when with choose and book everything was done at the doctors on the day of your diagnosis?

I have not received any correspondence with Torbay as the DART team is based in Newton Abbot and apparently the communication is patchy between them. So I have to turn up at Torbay and hope I have an appointment. What a farce the NHS is becoming.

Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››


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

Dear ‘Mr Angry’,

Thank you for taking the time to let us know about your experience of using DART, we are grateful for all the feedback we receive and use it to try and improve our service. I am sorry that you are not happy with the service you have received.

Things such as blood tests and blood pressure are often checked by GPs before they refer a patient to see a specialist. The results of these checks can sometimes have a direct bearing on the problem that you are being referred for and so it makes sense to try and get as full a picture as possible to pass on to the hospital. Also, if there are any underlying problems that would prevent or delay you having treatment, they can be detected and addressed as soon as possible, rather than only being picked up at your hospital appointment which may be several weeks later.

The DART team is here to offer patients a choice of time and place for their treatment, wherever possible, and to provide information that patients may require before they make their choice. The service has been designed, and is overseen by, local GPs who feel that this service is the best way for patients to make their appointments.

The communication between DART and Torbay Hospital is not in any way patchy and I apologise if you were given that impression. We use the Choose & Book system to offer patients available appointments and Torbay will pick up all the patient details, referral information and appointment bookings from Choose & Book with no loss of information in between. Appointment confirmation letters are sent out from the hospital that we book an appointment with, not by DART. There are obviously a large number of letters sent out each day and, unfortunately, Torbay Hospital have advised us that patients do occasionally advise them that their letter did not arrive or did not arrive in time, and so they have asked us to make sure that patients take down the appointment details just in case their letter should go astray. If, closer to your appointment date, you have not received a confirmation letter please feel free to contact either DART or Torbay Hospital both of whom will be able to confirm your appointment details.

I hope that this response has gone some way to answering your questions but if not, please feel free to contact us again.

Best wishes,


  • {{helpful}} of {{total()}} people think this response is helpful