"Unnecessary delays in getting an appointment!"

About: Devon Access and Referral Team (DART)

(as a relative),

GP referred my husband to a cardiologist who gave info on the DART. Phoned on Friday - didn't get anything, tried again the next week. DART say they can't handle this as cardiology dept will need to make the appointment as they know which clinic my husband should visit.

So, my question is, why did the GP ask my husband to use DART when they can't make that kind of appointment? It seems like an unnecessary delay for an appointment we're anxious to make.

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

Dear ‘Closer541’

Thank you for taking the time to let us know about your experience, it is very valuable for us to know how our service is working from the patient’s point of view.

The system currently in place at some of our local hospitals for Cardiology patients dictates that we can’t view and book their appointments, as we do for most other specialities. Because there are a number of diagnostic tests that may be required before your husband meets with a consultant, and these vary from case to case, the hospitals ask that they book the appointments and can therefore arrange the timings so that your results are available when your husband first meets with the specialist. This is currently how it works at both the RD&E and Torbay hospitals. They ask for 14 days so that the consultant can read the referral letter and they can then set up the relevant diagnostics appointments as described above.

However, this system is not in place at all hospitals and so the reason patients are asked to phone DART is so that they can be offered a choice of hospitals to be seen at. If your husband had chosen to be seen at Taunton or North Devon (or another hospital perhaps outside of the immediate area), we would have been able to offer him a choice of appointments while he was on the phone. It is up to the individual hospitals how they set up their booking systems and is not something we can influence. The hospitals do recognise that it can be frustrating to have to wait 14 days to hear but, when letting the appointments be booked by us, have found in the past that they had to change a number of appointments after they had been made and it was felt that this was more frustrating for the patient.

I can assure you that, while this does delay how quickly your husband receives his appointment details, it will not have delayed the appointment as records are kept of when each referral is initiated and patients are seen ‘in order’.

I hope that this has answered your queries but do feel free to post again if you have any further concerns. If you would like us to check on your husband’s referral, please phone our patient helpline on 01626 883888 and we will be happy to look into it for you.

Kind regards,


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