"No contact from Devon Access Referral Team. No hospital appointment."

About: Devon Access and Referral Team (DART)

(as the patient),

When phoning, I waited and waited and waited, (yawn!!!!!!!!!!!!!), for someone to answer the phone. Nobody ever did. It may surprise DART that not everybody can stand around all day on the phone. I have to go to work, where mobile phones are banned, no access to telephones and so forth.

In the good old days the hospital sent you a letter with the appointment details - no problem.

I think this is a new ploy to reduce hospital waiting lists. Patients cannot make an appointment and give up. Hey presto, waiting lists dwindle.

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

Dear ‘Musso’,

Thank you for taking the time to let us know about your experience of using the DART service and I’m sorry it wasn’t a happier one.

Please accept my apologies for us not being able to answer your call, we do everything we can to staff the phones during the busy periods but we only have so many phone lines and so if a large number of patients phone in at once, a queue will form. I know that it is very frustrating to be kept waiting on the phone indefinitely and that the option to leave a message is only helpful if you are available to take a call during the day. We do not deliberately ignore calls in order to encourage patients to give up and abandon hope of treatment.

We have looked into extending our opening hours but other services in the area have reported that they do not get enough calls later in the evening to justify the longer hours. We are also trying to set up a system for patients to e-mail us but this is difficult due to confidentiality laws and so this service is not available yet.

In the meantime, if you would simply like the first available appointment at your nearest hospital, I would suggest getting a friend or family member to phone on your behalf, asking your GP surgery to phone on your behalf or leaving a message on our answerphone to that effect and you will get a letter through the post confirming the details of your appointment.

Best wishes,


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