"Unhappy with appointments system in Devon"

About: Devon Access and Referral Team (DART)

(as the patient),

I received my DART leaflet in the post, spent some time working out what it was supposed to be for, then called the number to book my appointment.

The lady I spoke to could not seem to locate my Doctor's surgery and left me on hold for nearly 5 minutes. When she came back on the line I was told that she couldn't find me an appointment so she would get Exeter hospital to contact me directly with an appointment.


1) A waste of paper for the leaflet and postage get send it to me.

2) A waste of a wage employing someone to book appointments when it has to be done direct with the hospital anyway.

3) I am on a fairly time sensitive schedule and I've already 'lost' over 3 weeks.

4) I have still never received any appointment from Exeter so will have to sort it out myself.

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Response from Susan Pearce, Project Support Manager, DART (Devon Access & Referral Team), NHS Devon We are preparing to make a change

Dear ‘M6’,

Thank you for taking the time to contact us and let us know about your experience. We value all feedback and use it to try and improve our service.

Firstly I’d like to apologise for the confusion over your GP surgery and the length of time it took to sort it out. Some surgeries in the area have two names which can cause confusion but we have now supplied everyone in the team with a list of these surgeries and both their names so hopefully this won’t happen again.

Our team is here to offer patients a choice of hospitals to be seen at, and to answer any questions that patients may have in order to help them make that decision. This is the reason that you were given our number to phone instead of being directed straight to the hospital. Once the patient has made their decision, we are usually able to book the appointment during that phone call but unfortunately, as happened in your case, some services are under a lot of pressure and don’t always have appointments available for us to book there and then. As a result, we have to pass your details on to the hospital that you’ve chosen and ask them to contact you when they have some more appointments available. Please be assured that we take waiting times very seriously and you won’t have ‘lost’ any time because of this. A record is kept of when each patient starts waiting and appointment dates must be offered within certain time frames regardless of how the appointment ends up being made or who by. This process is closely monitored and adhered to in all NHS hospitals.

I realise that you may not want to but, if you’d like, we’d be happy to chase up your appointment for you if you’re still waiting for it. You should have heard from the hospital within 2 weeks of speaking to us.

I am sorry that you had such a disappointing experience dealing with us, it sounds as if it must have been a very frustrating time for you and our aim is to make patient’s lives easier, not more difficult. We will take your comments on board and use them to improve things for future patients. We are already aware of the problems with certain services not always having appointments available and we are working with the local hospitals to try and improve this situation.

Kind regards,


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