Drivers waiting for HGV licence renewals after taking the DVLA medical check face delays of up to 31 weeks due to a backlog of cases, CM has learnt.
Firms are warning that the delays are exacerbating the driver shortage, particularly among drivers over 65 who are required to take a medical each year to retain their licences.
Hauliers said the bottleneck has been caused by stricter controls around driver health checks, prompted by the death of six people in the 2014 Glasgow refuse truck crash, after driver Harry Clarke blacked out at the wheel.
It was subsequently found that Clarke had failed to notify the DVLA that he suffered from blackouts.
Barry Proctor Services MD Barry Proctor was told by the DVLA’s medical department that it was unable to say when one of his drivers would have his HGV licence re-issued because of a 31-week backlog of medical tests.
Proctor said: “This is totally unacceptable. We supported our driver for 12 months while he waited for an operation to correct his field vision.
“Now we’ve been told, even though he passed his eye test three weeks ago, that we could wait another 31 weeks for it to be signed off by a DVLA doctor. How are people expected to feed their families or run a business?”
Both the RHA and MP Rob Flello have taken up Proctor’s case, with Flello pledging to raise the issue in parliament.
Mick Gorry of JM Gorry & Son told CM he had a similar wait when renewing his licence as a driver over the age of 65. “I applied in October 2015 and finally got it back in June 2016.”
Gorry said he had been told by DVLA officials that the delay was due to the lack of doctors available to check medicals.
A spokesman for the DVLA said: “We receive 3,000 medical cases a day and we deal with each as quickly as possible. We have processes in place to prioritise applications from professional drivers whose jobs may be at risk if we are made aware of their circumstances.
“We don’t want to hold on to anyone’s licence longer than necessary. However, in more complex cases we often need additional information from the driver or their doctor. Once this is returned we can make an evidence-based decision.”