"Why there is a number to ring when there are no appointments?"

About: Devon Referral Support Services

(as the patient),

I received a letter to call the Devon Referral and Support Service to make an appointment to see a specialist about problems with my gall bladder.

However there were no appointment available and they would ring me within two weeks with a date. The letter has no information about the hospital department or the name of the consultant so you are left in the dark and are ringing up blind. The caller who answered barely asked for any sort of reference and only took my date of birth.

I can’t see why there is a number to ring when there are no appointments. What is the point?

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Response from Gemma Smith, Devon Referral Support Services

Dear Damp127,

Thank you for getting in touch to let us know about your experience of using our service and I’m sorry that it didn’t meet your expectations.

One of the main reasons that patients are asked to phone the DRSS to book their appointment is so that they can be offered both choice of location and date/time of appointment, which hopefully means patients will get an appointment time that suits them. Usually, patients would be offered a range of dates and times to choose from but it sounds like the clinic you need has become fully booked. Each hospital in the area puts appointments on the system as they have them available and we book patients in to them. However, if a particular service is over-subscribed we have no choice but to start a waiting list and pass your details on to the hospital that you have chosen. Once they have more dates available they will contact patients directly.

With regards to the information about hospital departments, once a patient has chosen where they will receive their care our team are able to provide any specific instructions and phone numbers.

I would also like to reassure you that DRSS are only able to deal with a patient booking with the use of a unique booking reference number or confirmation of some key personal details including name, address, date of birth and reason for referral, one confirmed we can proceed with arrangements for your care, otherwise DRSS cannot proceed for security reasons.

I’m sorry that you feel this system doesn’t work well for you. We are continuously working with the local hospitals to try and make sure that as many appointments as possible are available and hopefully improve the service for future users. If you have any concerns about the phone call you had with DRSS and feel we did not uphold a robust security check please feel free to contact our patient helpdesk on 01626 883 888 between 9-5pm on the following dates when we will be operating normal opening hours in the festive period:

- 22nd December

- 23rd December

- 24th December

- 25th & 26th December - CLOSED

- 29th December

- 30th December

- 31st December

- 1st January 2015 - CLOSED

- 2nd January 15

Many thanks

Gemma Smith

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