The strengthened guidelines emphasise all doctors’ duty to disclose information to the DVLA or DVA (Northern Ireland), where the patient has failed to act.
The guidelines build on the current Confidentiality guidance published in 2009, with the revised draft now under public consultation from 25 November 2015 to 10 February 2016.
The guidance says: ‘The Driver and Vehicle and Licensing Agency (DVLA) and Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) are legally responsible for deciding if a person is medically unfit to drive. This means they need to know if a driving licence holder has a condition or is undergoing treatment that may now, or in the future, affect their safety as a driver.”
It adds: “Disclosure of personal information about a patient without consent may be justified in the public interest if failure to disclose may expose others to a risk of death or serious harm.”
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the General Medical Council, said: “We are clear that doctors carrying out their duty will not face any sanction – and this new guidance makes clear that we will support those who are faced with these difficult decisions.”
FTA welcomes these new guidelines as they will provide some additional reassurance for employers, but added that employers need to be able to do more to protect themselves.
Ian Gallagher, FTA’s lead on DVLA, said: “We’re in a ridiculous situation that the employer is completely reliant on the individual to notify them that they have a medical condition. In some cases it’s the employer’s own checks that actually highlight that entitlement has been suspended or revoked on medical grounds. Employers have no right to access medical records. Patients can even veto doctors’ letters if they don’t agree with what’s been written.
“FTA believes that GPs should seriously consider the draft guidance and put what’s written into practice and notify DVLA if they know patients are driving against their advice, but, this doesn’t go far enough. We need a process that involves the employers that provides access to necessary medical information which could ultimately save lives’’.