"Getting a hospital appointment in Devon seems more complex than before"

About: Devon Access and Referral Team (DART)

(as the patient),

I cannot understand the point of DART. I have previously been an extremely satisfied patient at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital (RD&E) and now require a further appointment.

I have had an X-ray and a CT scan both booked efficiently and quickly, direct with the hospital by my GP. As a result of these tests my GP feels I need to see a consultant. It seems that he now has had to write to DART with my details, DART then write to me asking for me to telephone them. I contact DART who can't make an appointment but tell me they will write to RD&E asking them to give me an appointment. RD&E will then contact me directly, some time within the next two months.

That which was previously a very efficient and quick system, now seems to be a bureaucratic system imposed between patient and GP. Who on earth designed this and what can it achieve?

Do the majority of patients really have adequate info. on all the hospitals and consultants on which to make choices?

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

Dear ‘fishhead’,

Thank you for taking the time to feed back to us regarding your experience of DART and I’m sorry that you feel it is not a worthwhile service.

When your GP made the decision to refer you to a hospital, s/he will have dictated a letter which is then sent electronically. Your GP surgery then sent you the details of how to contact us so that we could offer you a choice of hospital for your treatment and pass the referral letter on to the appropriate consultant.

One of the main purposes of DART is to offer a choice of hospitals as it is felt in the NHS that patients should have the right to choose where they are treated. We can provide you with some of the information you might want in order to make that decision and patients are of course free to research individual clinicians through the General Medical Council if they wish.

Once you had made the decision to go to the RD&E we would have searched the system for available appointments but as you weren’t given one, I can only assume that there were none available at the time. This happens more often than we would like and we are working with the hospitals in the area to try and rectify the situation. This is one of the other benefits to patients of talking to someone on the phone – we should be able to offer you a choice of date and time rather than the hospital just sending you an appointment. It has been found that patient attendance rates are far higher if they were able to choose a date and time to suit them.

I hope that I have gone some way to answering your queries. If not, please feel free to contact me again.

Kind regards,


If you would like to talk to someone at DART about any remaining issues with your referral please feel free to contact our Patient Helpline on 01626 883888.

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