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UK doctors to report unfit drivers to licensing agency
By Mike Stevens, CarAdvice.com.au • 27/11/2015
Doctors in the UK may soon be required to tell the nation’s Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) about any patients that may pose a safety risk behind the wheel.
The UK’s General Medical Council (GMC) announced its plans overnight, releasing a draft of the new regulations to the public for consultation.
The council’s CEO, Niall Dickson, said that the decision will make it possible for doctors to act on their conscience with the knowledge that they will not have broken patient confidentiality laws.
"A confidential medical service is a public good, and trust is an essential part of the doctor-patient relationship, but confidentiality is not absolute and doctors can play an important part in keeping the wider public safe if a patient is not safe to drive,” Dickson said.
"Doctors often find themselves in challenging situations. This is difficult territory - most patients will do the sensible thing but the truth is that a few will not and may not have the insight to realise that they are a risk to others behind the wheel of a car."
Dr Maureen Baker, chairwoman of the UK’s Royal College of GPs, said that “where possible”, the responsibility of reporting a doctor’s recommendation of unfitness to drive should be left to the patient, but this new guidance will allow doctors to follow up.
“In some cases, if a patient hasn't self-reported, we do take this step on their behalf,” Dr Baker said.
The draft guidance has won the support of the UK’s RAC Foundation.
"The worst thing motorists can do is ignore medical advice. If they don't tell the DVLA about something that impacts on their ability to drive safely, then their GP will,” RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said.
The decision is understood to be a response to increasing pressure on the UK government to introduce laws that will require older drivers to be re-tested more often.