"Concerned about patient confidentiality"

About: Devon Access and Referral Team (DART)

(as the patient),

I have just rung the Devon DART service and I am very concerned about the levels of patient confidentially, and will be trying my best to avoid using the service in future. My doctor sent me a referral, so I rang DART and the receptionist I spoke to read what my doctor had written about my symptoms and what he thought my condition might be. This has nothing to do with this receptionist and is personal and confidential information. This person then had to decide which department I would be referred to, they were not even a nurse (I asked them) and in the end she couldn’t even decide.

I am not going back to this service. No way am I discussing personal information with them, this is between the doctors and myself. I will try and get a referral straight through my doctor instead.

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Response from Susan Pearce, Project Support Manager, DART (Devon Access & Referral Team), NHS Devon

Dear ‘Lively508’

Thank you for contacting us to let us know about your concerns as patient confidentiality is something we take very seriously.

DART exits to provide patients with a choice of hospitals in order to allow them to choose the time, place and service that will suit their lifestyle best. The services provided by different hospitals can vary quite a lot and so, in order to help you make a decision as to where to be treated, we need to know some of the details of your referral. Not all conditions are treated by all hospitals so we obviously only want to offer you a relevant choice. This is the reason that we would have read your referral letter and it would be incredibly difficult for us to book you into the correct clinic had we not done so.

DART only have access to the information relevant to a patient’s current referral, not their medical history. In order to access the information to that referral, we each have a ‘smartcard’ which needs a personal pin number to be activated and is strictly monitored to ensure that we each only have as much access as we need. In addition, all staff are rigorously trained regarding patient confidentiality and have to sign the NHS Devon confidentiality policy form. The main theme of the policy is that no-one who does not need to know about your medical details in order to further your referral will not have access to them under any circumstances. Please be assured that both our policy and processes are in accordance with the national guidelines set out by the Department of Health.

I hope that this helps to put your mind at rest and please feel free to contact me either by phone on 01626 883888 or by reply to this post if you wish to discuss this further.

Kind regards,


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