Over 200,000 motorists are awaiting medical assessments for driving licence applications, says the British Medical Association, which warned of the potentially “grave impact” on road safety if people bypass their GPs in favour of independent practitioners.
The BMA has written to the Department of Transport urging the government to guarantee a “safety-first” approach when it comes to managing the backlog and claimed the numbers waiting are growing every month.
The doctors’ union warned that avoiding the queue by going to independent practitioners means there is a risk that, without them having a full patient history, medical conditions could be played down – whether intentionally or otherwise.
The BMA is voicing its “concerns that this style of self-reporting is neither sensible nor safe” and wants an approach which involves a person’s GP.
The organisation also urged authorities to be “honest” with people about the backlog and the amount of time it will take to be cleared.
Dr Peter Holden, BMA professional fees committee chair, said: “Across the country, thousands of drivers require medical ‘fit to drive’ sign-off in order to obtain or renew their drivers’ licence.
“We know that some of these drivers, aware of the current DVLA backlog, are bypassing the queue at their own GP practice and going to third party registered medical practitioners.
“The issue here is that only an individual’s GP practices has access to a patient’s full medical record, so only they know whether or not that person is fit to drive.
“By seeking ‘sign-off’ from an independent practitioner, who only has the patient’s word to go by, there’s a risk that medical conditions may be, either intentionally or unintendedly, understated and this has already had a grave impact on road safety.”
A spokesperson for the DVLA said extra staff and evening shifts will help tackle the backlog.
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