The Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) has slammed the Driver & Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) for letting down LGV drivers by delaying their licences unnecessarily for medical reasons.
In the report, titled ‘Driven to Despair: How Drivers Have Been Let Down by the DVLA’, the PHSO notes ‘major failings’ from the DVLA, which has led to drivers, namely those with vocational licences, being unnecessarily taken off the road, or prevented from driving until medical conditions have been resolved.
The PHSO dealt with eight cases, many of which concerned vocational drivers, where the individuals were “unfairly prevented from driving, sometimes for several years, as a result of flawed decisions, significant delays, poor communication and complaint handling”, said the PHSO.
The report continued: “We have seen the significant impact the DVLA’s actions have had on people’s lives, causing them to lose their jobs, be cut off from friends and family, and suffer significant stress and frustration.” The report highlighted one particular case, whereby a self-employed LGV driver was unable to work after the DVLA revoked his licence following a treadmill test which displayed unfavourable ECG readings. The DVLA then failed to reissue the drivers licence for a prolonged period, nor respond to the driver efficiently, despite the driver being cleared fit to drive by his doctor.
Another case involved one driver who informed the DVLA of his diagnosis of bipolar affective disorder. He driver later called this ‘the worst decision he ever made’ when his application for a vocational licence was rejected and his ability to drive was question. The driver was also sent for tests for alcohol dependence and heavy ethanol consumption following his bipolar admission. The driver was eventually issued with a 12 month vocational licence, but the prolonged delays by the DVLA caused him distress and financial hardship.
A third case took more than a year to resolve after an LGV driver on cross-continental work was entitled to his new vocational licence. When it was finally reissued by the DVLA, it was sent to the drivers’ old address due to poor record keeping from the agency, which delayed its receipt for a further 3 months.
The PHSO states that the DVLA accepted its findings and recommendations for all cases brought to light but they were still concerned that there will be more drivers who have experienced similar issues.