"What is the point in DART?"

About: Devon Access and Referral Team (DART)

(as the patient),

What is the point of the DART 'Choose and Book' scheme? I thought it was designed to make life easier and ensure that you book an appointment that suits you?

I called DART yesterday to arrange an appointment for a scope of my stomach to be done. I was told by DART that they couldn't arrange a time and a date until my referral has been sent to the Outpatients Department and then forwarded to the Surgeon. What a waste of time, this process is just too long.

What is the point of DART if they can't arrange appointments? They simply cannot fulfil their promises.

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

Dear ‘Name224’,

Thank for you for taking the time to tell us about your experience of using the DART service, I can only apologise that in this instance your experience was not a positive one.

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. To book an appointment we use the national Choose and Book electronic appointment system, we access information on hospital services and appointment availability to make sure we can offer you, where possible, a choice of hospital and appointment date and time.

After reading your post it would seem you were referred to the Gastroenterology department for the scope of your stomach. In the Gastroenterology department 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. 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 and wasted time. 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 this process it too long I can assure you your care 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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