"Referral service does not make sense"

About: Devon Referral Support Services

(as a relative),

My husband was referred for injections in his ankle by Mr Talbot in Exeter. After the first injection he was told subsequent injections could be arranged through his GP liaising with Mr Talbots secretary.

In fact we have received a letter to contact the DRSS to arrange an appointment. The DRSS will need to send letters to Mr Talbots secretary for the appointment to be made and we will then be notified by the DRSS. I asked why this process had been introduced I was told that it would allow patients a choice of hospitals where they could receive treatment – in our case either Exeter or Tiverton. As we live in Exeter it is unlikely that we would wish to go to Tiverton!

I was also told that the appointment would be in a maximum of 18 weeks – if we had gone directly to Mr Talbot’s secretary it would have been within days!

The DRSS is an extra step adding time and money to an NHS service already in crisis. What was the point of us going through the DRSS?

I’m astonished what is happening, it does not make any sense at all – I feel shocked by it.

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Response from Gemma Smith, Devon Referral Support Services

Dear ‘Pause698’

Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback with us and we apologise that your experience was not a positive one. This does seem like a confusing situation to me too and I am going to look into this further to get some clarification on what should happen.

Thanks again for taking the time to raise this issue with us, we will post again when we have some more information.

Best wishes

Gemma Smith

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Response from Devon Referral Support Services

Dear ‘Pause698’,

Thank you for your patience, I have looked into the matter further and will attempt to clarify the situation.

Firstly I’ll tackle the issue of having to come through the DRSS, rather than going straight to Mr Talbot’s secretary. I have spoken to the RD&E and they have told me that patients who have had an appointment with the consultant can usually contact the department to arrange any follow up appointments or their GP can refer directly to the radiology department, as you are still under the care of that hospital. The exception to this is if a certain amount of time has passed since the first appointment (usually 6 months although it can vary between patients) then the patient is discharged. In these cases, the patient needs to come through as a new referral to see the consultant again and the GP would refer via DRSS. I can’t tell from your post if this applies to your husband or not but if you would like me to look into your husband’s case in particular I would be happy to do so. Please feel free to contact me on 01626 883702 – I work 8-4, Monday to Wednesday.

That leads us on to your second point about having to come back to the DRSS and then being offered Exeter or Tiverton. There are a larger number of locations in the Exeter and East Devon area that can be offered for an ankle injection. The fact that you weren’t offered them would suggest that your husband’s GP directed the referral specifically to Mr Talbot. If the GP does this, we can only offer the locations where Mr Talbot has clinics, which are the RD&E and Tiverton. Again, unfortunately, I cannot tell if this is the case without more details but what you have said would suggest that this is the case.

I’m sorry that I’ve had to give a slightly vague answer but I can obviously only tell you what happens in theory and, as I mentioned above, please feel free to contact me by phone if you would like me to provide a more concrete response.

Best wishes,

Susan Pearce

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