"Great staff but ludicrous system"

About: Devon Access and Referral Team (DART)

(as a service user),

After a trip to to have my eyes tested, the optician said that he would contact my GP for him to refer me to the hospital. A letter then came through asking me to Devon Access and Referral Team to arrange an appointment.

I phoned this morning and spoke to a lovely lady, but she informed me that they couldn't arrange an appointment as the GP hadn't sent the letter from the optician as yet. She said she look into it and get back to me.

When DART got back in touch with me to arrange an appointment I was offered one at North Devon District Hospital. I said I didn't want to go there due to bad past experiences, and was told that the next alternative was at Exeter, which is over 75 miles away. This is absolutely crazy - where is the so-called "patient choice" that we are promised?

I want to make it clear that I had no issue with the staff I spoke to, who were all great, but rather with the system itself which is ludicrous. It just seems like another layer of bureaucracy and puts you through so much time and effort to get a hospital appointment - I've spent hours on the phone. I simply won't deal with this system again, I felt it was an inefficient waste of time and money.

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

Dear ‘keep640’,

Thank you very much for taking the time to let us know about your experience of using the service. We very much appreciate all the feedback that we receive.

I am sorry about the delay you experienced when trying to book your appointment. The process for ophthalmology referrals is longer than we would like and we are working on improving it, however as opticians are privately owned and therefore not part of the NHS, there is only so much we can do.

Regarding your choice of hospital, unfortunately there is a limited choice in Devon and Cornwall, largely due to the rural nature of the counties, which means that patients may have to travel further if they wish to be seen somewhere other than their local hospital. We do offer every choice that is available to us but for some patients, depending on the condition that requires treatment and where that patient lives, it is possible that there won’t be many options nearby.

Thank you very much for your kind comments about the staff that you spoke to, I will make sure that they are passed on to the team who book for ophthalmology.

If you would like to discuss the matter further, please feel free to contact me on 01626 883888 between 9 and 4.

Kind regards,


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