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"Quite stressful compared with the old system"

About: Devon Access and Referral Team (DART)

(as a relative),

Following my wife’s referral by her GP to a hospital consultant I have just learnt that a new system has been imposed which requires the patient to arrange an appointment through Devon Access and Referral Team (DART). This seems to be an additional layer bureaucracy merely to pass on a request.

My further concern is the cost of running DART, the funds for which must come from the NHS budget and I’m sure this money could be put to better use for the benefit of patients.

My wife’s visit to her GP and subsequent receipt of the appointment form took six days. On contacting DART, via a chargeable number, my wife was told ‘Sorry we are training and unable to deal with your enquiry but leave your reference, name and telephone number we will call you back’.

No call was received so I rang DART again the next day, only to be in a queue for some nine minutes but then I was dealt with in an efficient manner and was told an appointment would be made and the hospital would contact us in about four weeks.

Apart from the initial confusion (our first experience of this procedure) the whole process has been quite stressful compared with the old system of just receiving an appointment direct from the hospital.


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

Dear ‘Vid’,

Thank you for taking the time to contact us and let us know about your experience of our service. We do act upon feedback wherever possible and do strive to improve our service to meet patient’s expectations.

The paperwork that your wife received with DARTs phone number on would have come from your GP surgery. If you would like me to contact your surgery to mention that it took a long time, please contact me with the name of your surgery (I don’t need your details, unless you want to give them) and I’ll contact them to pass on your concern.

One of the main aims of our service is to give patients a choice of hospital so that they can choose the time and place that suits them the best for their treatment. For example, some patients choose to travel to a hospital other than their nearest in order to obtain a sooner appointment and some even go across country in order to be nearer to family members. This is why you were asked to call us instead of just being referred using the old method of a letter directly from your GP to your local consultant.

I’d like to apologise that your message was not responded to; I can only imagine that we were delayed in returning your call for some reason and that you had to ring a second time in the meantime. This is not an excuse however – we should have returned your call in a timely manner and I’m very sorry that we didn’t. I have raised the concern with the booking teams and reiterated to them that calls must be answered promptly. I can assure you that a delay that long is not normal practice.

I hope that my reply has answered your concerns and helped to explain why we have swapped to the new system. If not, please feel free to reply to this post or to contact me on 01626 883888 to discuss it further.

Kind regards,


  • {{helpful}} {{helpful == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} this response is helpful

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