"Not pleased with their communication"

About: Devon Access and Referral Team (DART)

(as the patient),

Out of the blue I received a phone call, the woman asked my name and I confirmed this, then she said this is the NHS from the hospital I have to ask you some security questions. My first thought was either that my elderly dad had been taken ill or one of my children in an accident or emergency. When I asked what it was about I was told I would get 'no more information without you giving me your details' when I asked why I was just fobbed off. I asked to speak to the manager and who was abrupt, telling me to ring my GP surgery. As I had no idea of any referral being made for me, but have had some blood tests recently it was a bit worrying. I asked why they did not have my full name, and they said it was my surgery's fault. Would anyone give their confidential details to a random phone caller who does not even have their proper name?

They ranted about it was not their fault. But I feel that sloppiness and informality are their fault.

I rang the GP, but they are closed, so I cannot cast any light on this until later. All quite concerning really.

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Responses

Response from Hayley Dusgate, Project Support Manager, Devon Access and Referral Team, NHS Devon

Dear ‘worried by the system’

After reading your story we would like to apologise for any confusion we have caused today.

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. At DART we are able to offer appointments to patients based on the referral letter information given by the GP or other clinical professional. A referral cannot be made without a patient’s consent to be seen by another specialist or service.

With regards to the phone call you received this morning, we understand that you were not addressed properly on the phone and we can only apologise for this and the fact that there was confusion over the nature of the call. I am sure you will appreciate that we have to ensure we are talking to the person concerned before going into any detail about the reason for us calling you. This is done purely to protect patient confidentiality. It would appear that the referral letter sent to DART did not contain the full, correct information which compounded the problem.

It would appear therefore, that in your case that we did not handle the process of ringing you very efficiently. We have spoken to the member of staff to make sure that in future the discussion to identify that we have contacted the correct person is phrased in a professional manner. Our policy is to address patients by their title and surname and ask security questions to make sure we are speaking to the right person, to ensure we do not disclose confidential details to anyone but the patient, or someone who has been nominated to act on their behalf.

I understand after speaking with our team supervisor you were able to resolve this together and you have consented for us to contact your GP surgery to discuss your care.

I hope that this response has gone some way to answering your questions but if not, please feel free to contact us again. Alternatively you can contact me directly on 01626 883766 on Monday to Friday from 9am until 5pm.

Best wishes

Hayley Dusgate

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