"Good stroke care but unhappy with DART"

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

(as the patient),

My GP referred me to the Stroke Clinic in Exeter via the Devon Access and Referral Team (DART).

It took DART over a week to respond asking me to contact them for an appointment. I phoned and was dealt with by a young man who kept me ages on the phone referring to my notes and having to refer back to them when I queried a point as he'd forgotten. Then he had to go to his supervisor and came back saying that he would have to fax the Stroke Clinic for an appointment which he said would take another week.

By this time I was not amused stating by that time I could be dead but just accepted that I'd have to wait.

Speaking to my daughter, a GP, about the wait she advised I ring the Stoke Clinic direct for an appointment which I did and was seen the next day. Whilst making my appointment I was told they didn't have any information regarding me at all (no fax from DART) so the secretary had to glean all this from me and my GP. On reading the Clinic's letter they advise that they should be phoned directly and would be given an appointment the following day or if on a weekend the next appointment day. Obviously my doctor and DART didn't do this.

On having my appointment at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital I couldn't have been dealt with any better. My congratulations to this hospital on their efficient and lovely staff especially Terri, the Stroke Clinic Secretary and Dr Sword.

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Response from Stroke Association, Stroke Association

Dear Annie

We noticed your post and thought you may be interested to hear about the work of the Stroke Association and how we may be able to support you. Stroke Association is the leading charity in the UK changing the world for people affected by stroke.

Our Stroke Helpline is there for anyone who has been affected by stroke in any way. You may want to know more about stroke and its effects, be looking for practical information and support, or simply someone to talk to. The Stroke Helpline is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm on 0303 30 33 100. You can also email us at info@stroke.org.uk. We also have a range of services across the UK, providing information, advice and support to stroke survivors and their families. You can find out if there is a service in your area by contacting the Helpline.

We were sorry to hear that you are unhappy with the service you received from the Devon Access Referral Team and your GP. It may be helpful to contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS). PALS are there to ensure that the NHS listens to patients, their relatives, carers and friends, answers their questions and resolves their concerns as quickly as possible. You can find contact details for your local PALS at: www.pals.nhs.uk.

Finally, you can also find lots of information about stroke on our website at www.stroke.org.uk. You can read about our services, read or listen to other people’s experiences and download all of our publications free of charge. There is news about our campaigns to improve services for stroke survivors, national and local events and our research programmes. You can also join the Talkstroke discussion group where you can share your experiences with other people who have been affected by stroke.

I hope that this is helpful and that you are now getting the support that you need to make the best recovery possible.

Stroke Information Service


Stroke Association staff are not medically trained and the information provided does not replace information given to you by your own healthcare provider.

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Response from Gemma Smith, Project Support Manager - Devon Referral Support Services, Devon Access & Referral Team (DART)

Dear ‘Annie T’,

I would like to apologise for the delay in responding to your comments. Thank you for taking the time to tell about your experience of using the DART service, I can only apologise that your referral did not follow the normal process. Due to the urgent nature of a referral to The Stroke Clinic, is not something we at DART are able to book and should have been sent by your GP Practice as a direct referral to the team.

With regards to your telephone conversation, I can only apologise you were kept on the line for longer than expected. At DART the first opportunity to process any referral comes when the patient contacts the team. When you called the team we were then able to redirect your referral to the correct department and send it onto The Stroke team.

At times we have no choice but to send a fax onto another clinic and in these circumstances the team keep a fax receipt to show the information was sent successfully. I have asked the booking team to check their paperwork but I can only apologise the Stroke Clinic did not have the information when you called.

I would welcome the chance to look into this a little further for you and would be able to do this with some more details about your referral. If you are happy to, please can you contact me 01626 883712 or on our Choose and Book Helpdesk email address cab.helpdesk@nhs.net. I work from Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm.

I apologise for the frustration you have felt and hope to speak with you soon.

Best Wishes

Gemma Tremlett

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