"An added layer of admin?"

About: Devon Access and Referral Team (DART)

(as the patient),

Needing fairly urgent attention for a recurring medical problem my GP said he would refer me to the ENT department at Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital. Several days later I received a letter from DART informing me that I should telephone to make an appointment.

I assumed this would be with ENT. However, it appears that DART have to contact the ENT department with my details so that they (ENT) can send me an appointment. I was told to expect the letter from ENT in a couple of weeks. The only plus point was that they offered a choice of Hospitals. On the negative side they couldn't advise me on which of the Hospitals had the expertise or equipment to deal with my problem.

At present I fail to see what use this service is to patients, in the past my GP would have referred me directly to ENT. Now there appears to be an added layer of administration that increases the time from seeing your GP to treatment, increases the patient cost in telephone calls and even more concerning increases the cost of running the NHS. Surely the money spent on this department could be better spent on direct medical uses.

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

Dear ‘Geotish’,

Thank you for contacting us with your feedback on our service, we do appreciate it and try to use the information to improve our service wherever possible.

The information you received with DART’s contact details will have been sent to you by your GP surgery. If you feel that it took too long to arrive, please contact me with the name of your surgery and I’ll pass the message along to them. However, it is worth noting that some referrals are slightly delayed while waiting for test results so that the full information can be passed on to the specialist in the referral letter.

One of DARTs main aims is to offer patients a choice of hospital and to book the appointment of their choice over the phone. Unfortunately, some busy services can become fully booked and, when this happens, we have no choice but to pass your details on to the hospital you have chosen as there are no appointments left for us to offer you. Please be assured that we will only have offered you hospitals that have an ENT service available at them.

I’m sorry that you feel the DART service is not worthwhile. The ethos of DART is to get the patient booked into the right place, with the right clinician, at the right time and DART works closely with the local hospitals to try and ensure that this happens as smoothly as possible for each patient. However, the system is not perfect and the range of specialist services available through the NHS is vast and so it makes sense for DART to help patients through the referral process, rather than individual GP surgeries having to keep track of the large variety of changing options that are available to patients. The problems are being addressed and top of the list is to increase the number of appointments available for DART to book.

Kind regards,


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