DVLA making unfair health driving licence decisions
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is not making fair decisions about medical fitness-to-drive cases, a report has suggested.
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s report found “major failings” in eight drivers’ cases. It said people’s lives had been put on hold for years because of flawed decision-making and poor communication.
The DVLA said the vast majority of cases it handles are dealt with swiftly and correctly.
Criticisms in the report are directed at the Drivers’ Medical Group – the part of the DVLA which considers whether drivers with a medical condition are safe to drive.
The DMG makes between 600,000 and 750,000 licensing decisions every year and around 10% of those are complex cases dealt with by medical experts.
The report looked at eight complaints in detail which were received by the ombudsman between 2014 and 2015.
These all concerned people with complex medical conditions who were unfairly prevented from driving, sometimes for several years, the ombudsman’s report said.
The report found “major failings”, including evidence of flawed decisions, significant delays, poor communication and complaint handling in those cases.
And it said it was concerned that other people had also been treated unfairly and that the same mistakes could be repeated.
The report recommends that the DVLA improves the way it communicates with people applying for a licence and with medical professionals, and sets up robust standards to assess people with medical conditions fairly.
In addition, it says financial compensation should be offered to those affected by failures, where appropriate.
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Julie Mellor said the DVLA’s failings had had a real impact.
“People’s lives have been put on hold for years because of severe delays and flawed decisions by the DVLA, leading people to lose their jobs, causing stress, worry and isolation.”
She said the DVLA had produced a new guide for medical professionals and improved its complaint handling and communications – but there was still more to do.
“Further action is needed to make the assessments of fitness to drive more robust, to prevent others from suffering the same injustice in the future.”
Conditions that could affect your ability to drive safely include:
- Other neurological and mental health conditions
- Physical disabilities
- Visual impairments