"Making an appointment with local hospital"

(as the patient),

Received a letter. Phoned DART. No appointments available at hospital so DART says it will contact hospital and hospital will write a letter to me. In other words, I now have had to wait for two separate letters just to get to the stage of making an appointment. Thus the DART process has introduced an unnecessary delay. It would have been much better if I could contacted the hospital direct.

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Response from Project Support Manager, DART, NHS Devon

Dear ‘GussieFinkNottle’,

Thank you for taking the time to let us know about your experience of using DART, we are grateful for all the feedback we receive and use it to try and improve our service. I am sorry that you are not happy with the service you have received. The DART team is here to offer patients a choice of time and place for their treatment, wherever possible, and to provide information that patients may require before they make their choice. The service has been designed, and is overseen by, local GPs who feel that this service is the best way for patients to make their appointments.

Patients are asked to contact DART to discuss which hospitals are available to choose from, we have access to the hospital appointments to enable patients to take this into account when choosing their hospital. Although the hospital you chose did not have any available appointments at the time of your booking, you may have chosen to be seen in a different hospital where we could have offered you an appointment.

Unfortunately at times we at DART are unable to make an appointment and have to pass the patient details onto the chosen hospital. Some clinics become fully booked and patients have to be added to a waiting list, the hospital can then contact the patient directly when more appointments become available. The hospitals are aware that this does cause problems for patients when trying to book an appointment and they are increasing their appointments to try and avoid this happening, but as demand rises the clinics can become full leaving us no choice but to pass your details on to the hospital for them to contact you directly.

In some hospital departments it is more appropriate for your referral to be reviewed by a consultant prior to offering you an appointment, this is so the hospital can arrange for any additional diagnostic tests to be requested before you see a consultant and at the stage of your first outpatient appointment the consultant will have any results ready to discuss with you. We understand that this is not an ideal way to offer appointments but in the past patients have booked appointments only to have them re-arranged to accommodate any tests that are needed. To avoid causing patients the inconvenience of having to make additional arrangements or change appointments unnecessarily some hospitals find it better to contact patients directly.

I’d like to reassure you that, even though you feel it has taken longer than it would have under the previous system to receive your appointment details, the appointment itself will not have been delayed in any way. The date on which patients start waiting for their appointment is recorded and appointments are all seen ‘in turn’.

I hope that this response has gone some way to answering your questions but if not, please feel free to contact us again.

Best Wishes.

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