"DART seems a pointless additional expense"

About: Devon Access and Referral Team (DART)

(as the patient),

My GP recently referred me to Royal Devon & Exeter via DART. He wrote a referral to DART which took 2 weeks.

DART have now been in touch and tell me that my appointment at Royal Devon & Exeter will be in 2-3 weeks.

The past system whereby my GP wrote directly to the hospital was much more efficient. To me, DART appears to be a pointless additional expense and a waste of NHS money.

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Response from Hayley Dusgate, Devon Access & Referral Team (DART)

Dear Visitor 443

Thank for you for taking the time to tell us about your experience of using the DART service, I can only apologise that in this instance your experience was not a positive one.

Once your GP has decided to refer you for a consultant opinion, your GP sends you the information inviting you to contact the DART Team.

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. At DART we are able to offer appointments to patients based on the referral letter information given by the GP.

In some hospital departments, it is more appropriate for your referral to be reviewed by a consultant prior to offering you an appointment. This is so the hospital can arrange for any additional diagnostic tests to be requested before you see a consultant, and at the stage of your first outpatient appointment the consultant will have any results ready to discuss with you. In these circumstances, we pass all the details to the hospital but are not able to book an appointment for the patient. We understand that this is not ideal but in the past patients have booked appointments only to have them re-arranged to accommodate any tests that are needed. To avoid causing patients the inconvenience of having to make additional arrangements, or change appointments unnecessarily, some hospitals find it better to contact patients directly.

I’d like to reassure you that, even though you feel this process is a waste of time, I can assure you your care will not have been delayed in any way. The date on which patients start waiting for their appointment is recorded and appointments are all seen ‘in turn’.

I would really like the chance to look into this further, as without some more information from you I am unable to identify the true reasons behind what has happened. If you are willing, I would be grateful if you could give me a call with your details. My phone number is 01626 883712 and I work Monday to Friday, 9 until 5.

Kind Regards

Hayley Dusgate

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