DVLA plans to change the law on fitness-to-drive checks

Licensing body considers extending who can carry out medical checks for licence approval

Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 12:00 pm

The DVLA is considering changing the law on medical “fitness-to-drive” checks to allow more healthcare staff to carry out the process.

Currently, only registered medical practitioners are allowed to complete DVLA medical questionnaires, which assess a person’s suitability to drive.

However, the body responsible for driver licensing has launched a consultation on expanding the eligibility to include other healthcare workers such as nurses.

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It says that such a change would speed up the licensing process and reduce pressure on doctors and consultants.

The DVLA is currently struggling with a backlog of licence applications and other paperwork and  earlier this year the British Medical Association warned that delays in arranging such checks could put safety at risk.

It estimated that as many as 200,000 drivers are waiting on medical clearance to drive and some are being tempted to turn to other practitioners who don’t know their full history rather than waiting for an appointment with their own GP.

Every year the DVLA makes around 500,000 decisions on motorists’ suitability to drive, using the medical questionnaires completed by a doctor or consultant as the basis for many of these decisions.

The change would require an amendment to the Road Traffic Act 1988 to allow healthcare professionals other than doctors to complete the medical questionnaires.

DVLA chief executive Julie Lennard said: “Year on year we are seeing an increase in medical licensing applications for drivers and we are continuously looking for ways to improve the process for customers and the medical profession.

“This proposal would allow a wider pool of healthcare professionals to complete a driver’s medical questionnaire, reducing the burden on GPs and consultants. We are particularly keen to seek views from registered healthcare professionals, medical practitioners and representative bodies within the Health Sector on making this change.”

The consultation runs until 6 Decemeber and is available to view on Gov.uk.