DVLA accused of 'significant failings' with fitness to drive rules 

A new report has been published which has higlighted 'major failings' in the way the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVLA) makes decisions in regards to whether people with certain medical condtions are safe to drive. 

Published last week (19th October), the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman report found people with complex medical conditions were unfairly prevented from driving as a result of 'wrong decisions, delays, communication problems and handling of complaints'. 

The report investigated eight complaints made to the Ombudsman between April 2014 and March 2015 in regards to the Drivers Medical Group (DMG), the DVLA division that considers whether drivers with a significant medical condtion are okay to drive.

It concludes that the DVLA's actions had a 'significant impact' on the eight people's lives: causing them to their jobs, be cut off from family and friends, and to suffer from stress and frustration because of the decisions made.

The Ombudsman says the DMG team is 'not meeting it's obligations', citing a lack of evidence to relate medical conditions to ability to drive safely, and a lack of assessment of how 'specific condition risks' might actually affect people's safety on the roads.

 In the report foreword, Dame Julie Mellor, DBE, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, said: “Our outstanding concerns are two-fold. First, that there will be others who have experienced the same injustice and hardship for whom things have not yet been put right.

“Secondly, that insufficient action has been taken, or is planned, to prevent the same failures being repeated and impacting many more people in the future. In particular, further action is needed to improve the robustness of assessments of fitness to drive for people with certain medical conditions and disabilities. “

The Department for Transport has accepted our findings about the failures we have identified. I am deeply concerned, however, that it has not accepted our recommendations to put things right by providing justice for everyone who may have been affected or by improving the robustness of the criteria applied in future medical assessments.”

Oliver Morley, DVLA chief executive, said: “We are sorry for the way we handled the customers’ cases highlighted in the report.

"These eight very complex cases, however, date back to 2009 and since then the vast majority of the four million cases we've handled have been dealt with swiftly and correctly.

"We have already made a number of improvements including more effective ways of managing cases, taking on more staff and introducing a new online service where drivers can tell us about their medical conditions."