The law has been changed to enable more healthcare professionals to complete driver medical questionnaires, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has announced.
The change to the Road Traffic Act 1988 will now allow doctors to refer medical questionnaires to colleagues such as specialist nurses and opticians from other professional bodies.
It is hoped that the move by DVLA will improve and speed up the medical licensing process.
Roads Minister Baroness Vere said: “Obtaining or renewing a driving licence should always be a quick, simple and efficient process.
“That’s why we’re allowing more healthcare professionals to complete DVLA medical questionnaires to speed up the medical licensing process and ease the burden on GPs.”
By law, all drivers must meet the medical standards for fitness to drive.
Often, other healthcare professionals such as nurses or opticians will be involved in patient care and this change in the law now allows these and others to complete DVLA medical forms following deferment by a doctor.
DVLA will continue to send questionnaires to General Medical Council (GMC) doctors and consultants, and it will then be up to individual GP practices and hospital teams as to which healthcare professional in practice is best placed to complete the questionnaire.
DVLA chief executive, Julie Lennard, said: “Every year we are receiving an increasing number of medical licensing applications from drivers.
“This law change, which widens the pool of healthcare professionals who can complete DVLA questionnaires, improves the process for those notifying DVLA of medical conditions whilst reducing the administrative burden on doctors, benefitting drivers and the NHS alike.”
Previously, only doctors registered with the GMC could complete the questionnaires.
Although there is no requirement for GP surgeries or hospital teams to make changes to their current processes, the change to the law will now allow medical professionals from the following Councils to complete medical questionnaires on behalf of doctors: General Chiropractic Council; the General Optical Council; the General Osteopathic Council; the Nursing and Midwifery Council; and the Health and Care Professions Council.
The change to the law does not apply to the D4 Medical Examination Report, which will still need to be completed by a doctor or consultant who is registered with the GMC.
Phil Lloyd, head of engineering policy at Logistics UK, said: “Logistics UK has engaged with DVLA on a number of occasions regarding the negative effects medical assessment delays have had on professional drivers’ applications, which has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“With a national shortage of HGV drivers, it is vital applications are processed in a timely manner.
“Logistics UK therefore supports this change, which will enable DVLA to process medical assessments faster, providing swifter clarity for drivers and removing driver licence entitlement from those who are considered medically unfit to drive, thus making our roads safer.”