Major new driving licence change to help deal with application delays – ‘Great to see’

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Measures are being brought forward to change the law to allow more healthcare professions like specialist nurses to complete medical questionnaires. This will help speed up the return of medical information needed to make a decision on a driving licence by the DVLA.

The Government agency has been battling against a backlog of paper applications as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and industrial action.

By law, all drivers must meet the medical standards for fitness to drive and each year DVLA makes over 500,000 medical licensing decisions.

To help make these decisions, the DVLA often requires questionnaires to be completed by a driver’s doctor or consultant.

Currently, the Road Traffic Act 1988 only enables registered medical practitioners to complete DVLA medical questionnaires.

This has, understandably, contributed to delays to medical applications throughout COVID-19.

These processes were deprioritised at times during the pandemic, most notably in December 2021 and January 2022 where NHS resources were supporting the booster vaccine programme.

The proposed change in the law will enable more people to join the list of those able to complete medical questionnaires.

People who can deal with the questionnaires must still be registered with certain professional bodies.

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Julie Lennard, Chief Executive of the DVLA, praised the move, saying it would help ease the burden on doctors and speed up the process.

She said: “We were pleased to see that the consultation responses supported the idea of increasing the range of medical professionals who are able to complete DVLA medical questionnaires.

“This is in line with the way GP practices and hospital teams increasingly work and will improve the process for those notifying DVLA of a medical condition.

“This will also ease the pressure on hard-working doctors by widening the number of medical experts who can provide the necessary information.”

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A public consultation was launched in November 2021, which found that 82 percent of respondents strongly agreed or agreed with the proposals.

Baroness Vere, Transport Minister, said: “Changing this law makes sense.

“Doing so will safely improve the application process for hundreds of thousands of motorists across the country, whilst easing the pressure on our doctors and consultants.

“It’s great to see these important proposals progress into law.”

The DVLA urges drivers to use its online services when applying for a new driving licence as it will be processed immediately.

There are currently still some delays with paper driving licence applications, although there is no backlog for HGV applications.

Most “straightforward” applications will be processed within around five days.

The proposed law change will mean that any healthcare professional registered with a list of Councils will be legally authorised to complete DVLA medical questionnaires.

This includes: 

  • The General Chiropractic Council

  • The General Medical Council

  • The General Optical Council

  • The General Osteopathic Council

  • The Nursing and Midwifery Council

  • The Health and Care Professions Council

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