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Doctors to inform DVLA if drivers unfit

Jan 31, 2016
The General Medical Council (GMC) has issued guidance for doctors advising them to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) if patients are unfit to drive.

Following a number of high-profile cases where medical conditions were found to have contributed to incidents involving commercial vehicles, there has been a call for transport operators to be given access to any medical decision that could indicate that a driver is unfit to drive. 
 
Existing rules mean that it is the driver’s responsibility to notify the DVLA of any relevant medical condition and there are penalties in law, including a fine of up to £1,000, should they fail to do so. 
 
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) welcomes these new guidelines as they will provide some additional reassurance for employers, but believes employers need to be able to do more to protect themselves. 
 
“We’re in a ridiculous situation where the employer is completely reliant on the individual to notify them that they have a medical condition,” said Ian Gallagher, FTA’s lead on DVLA. “In some cases it’s the employer’s own checks that actually highlight that entitlement has been suspended or revoked on medical grounds.” 
 

Employers have no right to access medical records. Patients can even veto doctors’ letters. However the FTA believes that GPs should seriously consider the draft guidance and put what’s written into practice and notify DVLA if they know patients are driving against their advice.  However the organisation said that this does not go far enough.  “We need a process that involves the employers and provides access to necessary medical information which could ultimately save lives,’’ said Mr Gallagher. 
 
The matter was discussed at a Department for Transport (DfT) round table meeting chaired by Transport Minister Lord Ahmad and attended by FTA Chief Executive David Wells. 
 
Mr Wells said, “I urged the department to consider ways to speed up the process for employers to have better access to medical information so they can manage the risk to all road users appropriately. The industry takes this seriously and needs appropriate tools to manage drivers while respecting individuals’ privacy and data.” 
 

Photo: FTA Chief Executive David Wells 

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