" 6 weeks just to even see the Cardiology specialist"

About: Devon Access and Referral Team (DART) Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital (Wonford) / Cardiology

(as the patient),

I saw my GP 3 weeks ago reference a severe increase in the amount of angina that I have had over the last couple of months. He was concerned enough to refer me back to the Hospital to see the Cardiologist.

I have been waiting for an appointment letter for 3 weeks now and today I get a letter from DART to contact them to talk over any further treatment and care that is required.

I rang them this afternoon and as soon as I confirmed who I was the lady gave me a choice of 3 Hospitals and said I would receive an appointment in 2/3 weeks. She didn't even ask me about my condition, medication, or whether it was better or even worse.

So, that'll be 6 weeks down the line just to even see the Cardiology specialist!

I believe that this was a waste of time and scarce NHS finances!

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

Dear ‘jimllwaxit’,

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.

Once your GP has decided to refer you for a consultant opinion, your GP sends you the information inviting you to contact the DART Team. This information should be sent to you within a few days of your seeing your GP, it sounds as though it took a little longer to reach you than usual. If you are happy to, please inform us which practice you are registered with and we can liaise with the Practice to request this information is sent promptly to patients in the future.

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. 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.

In some hospital departments, such as Cardiology, 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 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. Alternatively you can contact me directly on 01626 883712 on Monday to Friday from 9am until 5pm.

Best Wishes

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