Doctors urged to report concerns about patients to DVLA
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.”
Road safety charity Brake welcome the news, saying it has long called for greater clarity from the GMC.
Gary Rae, director of communications and campaigns for Brake, said: “This is a positive move by the GMC, which will clarify the responsibilities and duties of both doctor and patient. We do recognise that, previously, doctors have been in a difficult position regarding confidentiality of their patients but the guidance makes it clear that this confidentiality is not absolute.”
“I would appeal to all drivers to ensure that they do declare any medical conditions that could prevent them from driving safely to the DVLA/DVA. If they fail to do so, they will pose a continuing risk to themselves and other road users.”