Major driving licence changes being introduced today will address DVLA backlog

From today, July 20, the law has changed to enable healthcare professionals other than doctors to complete DVLA medical questionnaires. This would take place following any notification of a medical condition that may affect an individual’s driving, the DVLA has announced.  

Specialist nurses and opticians are among the healthcare professionals now able to complete DVLA medical questionnaires.

This is part of an approach by the DVLA to improve and speed up the medical licencing process.

It is hoped that it will also reduce the burden on doctors when filling out medical questionnaires.

An amendment to the Road Traffic Act 1988, which comes into force today, means a wider pool of registered healthcare professionals, other than doctors, can now be authorised to provide information where a driver has declared a medical condition.

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In 2020 and 2021, the DVLA received 603,000 medical notifications and applications.

Increased life expectancy, an ageing population and a rise in certain medical conditions means that the number of health notifications reported to DVLA is likely to continue to grow every year. 

In addition to this, cases are also becoming more complex, with more individuals notifying DVLA of multiple medical conditions.

Julie Lennard, Chief Executive of the DVLA, 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.”

The average time taken to receive information from doctors has been severely impacted by the pandemic and other resultant demands on their time.

It has more than doubled in the last 12 months to approximately 94 calendar days for motorcycle and car licence applications.

It would also take an average of 75 calendar days for bus and lorry licence applications to be processed.

Previously, only doctors registered with the General Medical Council (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

  • Health and Care Professions Council

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