DVLA chief says DOCTORS to blame for 100,000 drivers having to wait a year for new driving licence

DVLA chief says DOCTORS are to blame for 100,000 drivers having to wait a year for a new driving licence

  • DVLA chief Julie Lennard made suggestion during a committee appearance
  • She said some GPs are taking too long to respond to requests for information
  • Between April 2020 and September 2022, 36% of medical licensing decisions took longer than 90 days

Doctors are partly to blame for almost 100,000 people waiting for a year for a new driving licence, the head of the DVLA has claimed.

Julie Lennard suggested GPs and consultants are taking too long to respond to requests for information, delaying the processing of medical driving licence applications.

The DVLA achieved a target to process 90 per cent of medical licensing decisions within 90 working days in the two years before the coronavirus pandemic.

But between April 2020 and September 2022 more than a third – 36per cent – of the medical licensing decisions took longer than 90 days.

And 6 per cent – equivalent to around 91,000 – took more than 250 working days, according to official figures.

Ms Lennard was pressed by Tory MP Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown during an appearance before the Commons Public Accounts Committee yesterday.

He asked whether consultants or GPs were not replying quickly enough to requests for medical information, or whether the delays were being caused by the DVLA.

Ms Lennard said: ‘There can be an element of both of those things – if all of the information is not there then it does sometimes mean having to go back out again.

DVLA chief Julie Lennard (pictured) suggested GPs and consultants are taking too long to respond to requests for information, delaying the processing of medical driving licence applications

DVLA chief Julie Lennard (pictured) suggested GPs and consultants are taking too long to respond to requests for information, delaying the processing of medical driving licence applications

The DVLA achieved a target to process 90 per cent of medical licensing decisions within 90 working days in the two years before the coronavirus pandemic (Pictured: DVLA offices in Swansea)

The DVLA achieved a target to process 90 per cent of medical licensing decisions within 90 working days in the two years before the coronavirus pandemic (Pictured: DVLA offices in Swansea) 

‘Others we can have GPs and consultants who take some time to come back to us, particularly now, but it is understandable when the focus is on clinical need.

‘So it can be a combination of both. But on the whole, when you look at it, we are able to make decisions quickly once we have got the information.’

Asked if the fault lay with doctors and consultants, she insisted it was a ‘combination’ but said: ‘This is the one area of DVLA where it is not entirely in our control because we are reliant on third parties.

‘It’s not just getting information from GPs and consultants – it might also be that various tests are needed.’

A National Audit Office (NAO) report earlier this month said that in February the DVLA had 330,000 medical licensing applications in progress – three times the average number during 2019/20.

By September this was down to around 207,000 applications in progress – still 100,000 more than the normal number.

A huge DVLA backlog developed during the pandemic, when fewer staff were able to work at the agency’s Swansea site and paper-based applications could not be worked on from home.

The NAO report said around half of the DVLA’s workforce of more than 6,000 people was placed on paid special leave in the three months following the start of the lockdown.

Only around 1,000 staff were working on site between March 2020 and June 2020 – down from around 3,300.

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