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Doctors warn of ‘grave impact’ on road safety as over 200,000 motorists wait for medicals

MORE than 200,000 motorists are awaiting medical assessments for driving licence applications, a doctors’ union has estimated, as it warned of the potentially “grave impact” on road safety if people bypass their GPs in favour of independent practitioners.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has written to the Department for Transport calling for the government to guarantee a “safety-first” approach when it comes to managing the backlog.

The union said the number of people waiting is growing every month and warned against avoiding the queue by going to an independent practitioner. 

The BMA has written to Transport under-secretary Baroness Vere, voicing “concerns that this style of self-reporting is neither sensible nor safe.”

Dr Peter Holden, BMA professional fees committee chairman, said: “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.

They said: “We have plans in place to reduce the current backlog of medical applications by bringing in additional staff and evening shifts, and are also working on additional measures to increase our surge capacity and help process applications faster.”

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