Driving licence law change speeds up DVLA fitness-to-drive checks

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Physicians will be given the power to forward medical questionnaires to other healthcare professionals to reduce wait times

Drivers who need a doctor’s certificate to obtain a driver’s license should get a permit faster after a change in the law.

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As of July 20, the DVLA relaxed its rules on who can administer medical questionnaires to reduce a backlog and relieve pressure on doctors.

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The questionnaires assess a person’s fitness to drive and are used for new applications and license renewals.

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Previously, only doctors registered with the Medical Association were allowed to complete the questionnaires, but the 1988 amendment to the Road Traffic Act means doctors can now delegate the task to qualified health professionals from other professional bodies, following consultation.

These include specialized nurses and optometrists who can provide information if a driver has declared an illness when applying for a driver’s license.

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The DVLA says the change will speed up the licensing process for hundreds of thousands of motorists who have faced significant delays processing medical applications.

DVLA Managing Director Julie Lennard said: “Each year we receive an increasing number of applications for medical licenses from drivers.

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“This change in legislation, which expands the circle of healthcare professionals who can complete DVLA questionnaires, improves the process for those reporting conditions to DVLA while reducing the administrative burden on doctors, benefiting drivers and the NHS alike.”

It was estimated that up to 200,000 drivers were awaiting medical clearance to drive, and some were tempted to contact other practitioners who did not know their full history, rather than wait to see their own GP.

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It warned that this could result in some drivers being approved for a license despite being medically unfit to drive.

Every year, the DVLA makes around 500,000 decisions on drivers’ suitability to drive. Many of these decisions are based on medical questionnaires completed by a doctor or consultant.

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While the July change affects medical questionnaires, it does not apply to the more detailed D4 medical examination report, which must still be completed by a GMC-registered physician or consultant.

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