Doctors have duty to report drivers unfit to take to the road 25 Nov 2015

Motorists must tell DVLA if they are unfit to drive or GP will

The General Medical Council (GMC) has reminded doctors that they "must inform the DVLA (or DVA in Northern Ireland), if a patient continues to drive against medical advice and fails to do this themselves."

The GMC says that doctors who take this action will not face any legal action or sanction for breaking patient confidentiality.

Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the General Medical Council, 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.

‘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.

‘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.’

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said:

‘Thirty-seven million drivers depend on the car for getting about and for those with serious medical conditions there is a real fear around losing their license. But with the right treatment many illnesses will not lead to people having to hang up the keys. 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.

‘Depriving someone of their ability to drive can create its own set of social and health issues and doctors will take reasonable steps to help keep people mobile though not at the cost of endangering the wider public. Ultimately the way forward must be for doctor and patient to work together rather than in isolation.’

The DVLA website says that drivers "could be fined up to £1,000 if you don’t tell DVLA about a condition that might affect your ability to drive safely. You could also be prosecuted if you have an accident."

ENDS

Contact:

Philip Gomm – Head of External Communications – RAC Foundation

philip.gomm@racfoundation.org | 020 7747 3445 | 07711 776448 | 020 7389 0601 (ISDN)

Notes to editors:

The RAC Foundation is a transport policy and research organisation that explores the economic, mobility, safety and environmental issues relating to roads and their users.

The Foundation publishes independent and authoritative research with which it promotes informed debate and advocates policy in the interest of the responsible motorist. All the Foundation’s work is available at: www.racfoundation.org

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