"It turned out OK in the end!"

About: Devon Access and Referral Team (DART)

(as the patient),

I needed to be referred to an ENT Consultant, for an audiology problem, and my GP told me that it was now down to me to make the appointment through DART.

I duly telephoned DART, to seek an appointment and was offered appointments with all and sundry. However, I explained, I needed continuity of treatment and wished to see a specific Consultant at the RD&E. I was told by the person to whom I was speaking that that particular Consultant had no appointments available. I questioned this, asking "what never?", and was told that my notes would be sent to the RD&E who would then send me an appointment. I firstly stressed that there was no emergency, and then asked them to ensure that they put on my notes that I would be in France until late October. I also telephoned the Consultant's secretary to explain what was happening, although, she would hardly be likely to see any appointment that had been made on my behalf.

Upon my return to England, late in October, I was extremely annoyed to find that I had, in fact been sent an appointment for a day when I was still in France. Thus first thing the next day, I telephoned first, the ENT at the RD&E, (not their problem) they advised phoning "Choose and Book" which I did (again not their problem either). Eventually got through to someone in Appointments, who told me that as I hadn't turned up for the appointment I was marked as FTA (failed to attend) and struck off the Consultant's list!

I was not happy, the person to whom I spoke was most sympathetic, but said that there was nothing she could do. However, she would tell the Consultant's secretary (I said "so would I", which I did"). I also notified my GP, and then decided to telephone the DART helpline and spoke to a most helpful person, who immediately made me another appointment for which I am most grateful. But I am still concerned that I remain listed as a FTA on my notes, which does not bode well for me in the future. I am also concerned that some less "pushy" people might find the whole process difficult, and exceedingly labour intensive and just give up.

Anyway thankfully for me, the problem was resolved and a new appointment made.

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Response from Gemma Smith, Project Support Manager, DART, NHS Devon

Dear ‘Reader665’,

Thank you for taking the time to tell us about your experience using the DART service and I apologise that in this case it was not a wholly positive one.

Firstly, thank you for advising us on your holiday dates, this is extremely helpful for us and it would seem that we did not take sufficient details from you to make sure your appointment was booked after your return. I can only apologise for the inconvenience you experienced and can assure you this will not affect your record or any future appointments that you may have.

The normal process is that any additional patient details, such as holiday dates, are recorded on the booking system and shared with the hospital to make sure any appointments made are appropriate for you. Unfortunately on this occasion this information wasn’t recorded.

From sharing your story with us it has highlighted a training need and we have provided further support and instruction to our Patient Choice Facilitators to avoid future occurrences. With regards to your concerns, feedback we get from our patients is largely positive but it is very important for us to understand where things may go wrong for some people.

Thank you for your kind comments regarding the person you spoke to on our helpdesk and I am very pleased she was able to help and book you a further appointment.

Best Wishes

Gemma Tremlett

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