"DART feedback and why I am now going private"

About: Devon Access and Referral Team (DART) North Devon District Hospital / General medicine

(as the patient),

After several months feeling progressively worse, I was finally referred by my GP to gastroenterology. Having received the DART letter asking me to call and book my appointment with the specialist, I went along to North Devon Hospital.

I then realised I was being seen in General Medicine, not gastroenterology as my GP wanted. It gets better, after having been told everything my GP had also told me I was discharged back to my GP and told he needed to refer me to gastroenterology. I went in the next day to speak to my GP, who immediatly got back onto sending me to the right department.

2 weeks passed, I then heard from DART again, this time for the correct department. When I checked and the lady on the line asked why I was asking, I informed her that they had sent me to the wrong clinic. She told me I was wrong, it must have been my GP made a mistake on the referral. I was present when my GP dictated the letter. I know he did not make the mistake.

Anyway, we eventually moved on, and I was told this time they couldn't make me an appointment as the specialist had to look over my referral and decide if further tests were needed, and then they would get in touch with me. I was informed I could be waiting 12 weeks.

I went back to see my GP and my parents are now paying for a private consultation, as I can't wait another 12 weeks, I am struggling to work 3 days a week as it is due to the tiredness and everything is suffering.

The final icing on the cake was when my GP saw the letter and realised who I had seen, he told me I had been see by "care for the elderly." I am 24. It said so on my referral, even if it had not, my DOB is on my records which they had.

I have yet to hear anything positive about DART, everyone I have spoken to seems to have similar stories about them, and mistakes they have made.

Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››


Response from Gemma Smith, Project Support Manager, DART, NHS Devon

Dear ‘C C Bear’,

Thank you for taking the time to post your comments about our service, we find the feedback received from patients to be invaluable in helping us to improve the experience for future patients. I am sorry that you feel that DART wasn’t very useful in your case.

I have started to investigate a little further using the details you have given, and have spoken with the teams who deal with the appointment bookings for General Medicine and Gastroenterology. It is very difficult to pinpoint the problems you experienced. At DART we are able to offer appointments to patients based on the referral letter information given by the GP, the facilitators who book appointments are not medically trained but are supported by our Support Team of GPs who can advise when a referral requires redirecting.

Once DART books an appointment the hospital has access to the referral information and clinically reviews each letter before a patient is seen in clinic to make sure each patient is seen appropriately. If there are any inconsistencies in the referral request the hospital will redirect to the right department.

Unfortunately at times appointments at the hospital become booked up and the wait to see a consultant can be a little longer than desired. I can only apologise for the frustrations you have had and understand that in your case you felt you were unable to wait for an appointment.

Although the conversations you have shared with others has reflected a disappointing view of DART I would like to reassure you that we carry out regular randomised surveys of patient journeys through DART and on average the feedback we have received has been largely positive, although we recognise that sometimes things can go wrong and we take pleasure in the opportunity to investigate further to get it right in the future.

I would really like the chance to look into this further, as without some more information from you I am unable to identify the true reasons behind what has happened. If you are willing, I would be grateful if you could give me a call with your details. My phone number is 01626 883712 and I work Monday to Friday, 9 until 5.

Kind Regards

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