GPs can now report patients who they think are unfit to drive..
And they can do so without having to tell them first.
A new guidance has come into force as of yesterday, which enables a family doctor to report a patient in secret if they believe they are unfit to drive.
GPs now have a duty to inform the correct authorities if they believe a patient is still driving even though they’ve been advised by the medical profession not to do so.
Family doctors can now report a patient without their consent to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) if they suspect that their patient is still driving despite receiving medical advice that claims they shouldn’t be on the road.
According to the General Medical Council, doctors need to “make every reasonable effort” to encourage a patient who they believe is unfit to be on the roads to stop driving. If they think there’s a “risk of death or serious harm” to other road users, doctors should inform the authorities.
However, a doctor should make every effort to let the patient know that they intend to disclose personal information before they contact the DVLA.
Changes to the guidance aims to help family doctors balance their ethical and legal duties when it comes to confidentiality, with far-reaching public protection responsibilities.
Many drivers suffering from certain medical conditions are fearful that if they declare their illness to the relevant authorities then they could lose their license. However, according to Steve Gooding from the motoring research charity, the RAC Foundation, with the right treatment many medical conditions won’t result in having to give up on driving.
“I would appeal to all drivers to ensure that they declare any relevant medical conditions to the DVLA to help keep all road users safe,” added Mr Gooding.
The changes have come about after a series of tragic accidents in the UK which involved pensioners who were unfit to drive, with many people now asking for the introduction of a test retake.
In 2012, a partially sighted 87-year-old was jailed after fatally injuring another pensioner. He’d lied about his eyesight so that he could keep his driving license and in 2014, another pensioner was jailed after causing death by dangerous driving. He killed a young mother after he pressed the accelerator rather than the brake.