FTA: New General Medical Council guidance for doctors on unfit drivers not enough

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The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has said that new General Medical Council (GMC) guidance for doctors to inform the DVSA if patients are unfit to drive is a step in the right direction, though more needs to be done.

Following a number of high profile cases where medical conditions were found to have contributed to incidents involving commercial vehicles, FTA has been calling for transport operators to be given access to any medical decision which could indicate that a driver is unfit to drive.

Draft guidelines issued by the General Medical Council GMC suggest a more proactive approach by doctors to promote the health of patients and the public, suggesting that a doctor should report patients who continue to drive despite being advised against it for medical reasons if they believe it ‘might leave someone at risk of death or serious harm.’

Existing rules mean that it is the driver’s responsibility to notify the DVLA of any relevant medical condition and there are penalties, including a fine up to £1,000, should they fail to do so.

Ian Gallagher, FTA’s lead on DVSA, said: “We’re in a ridiculous situation that the employer is completely reliant on the individual to notify them that they have a medical condition.

“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 if they don’t agree with what’s been written.

“FTA believes that GPs should seriously consider the draft guidance and put what’s written into practice and notify DVLA if they know patients are driving against their advice, but, this doesn’t go far enough. We need a process that involves the employers that provides access to necessary medical information which could ultimately save lives.”