HGV driver D4 medicals suspended by major providers in face of COVID-19 lockdown
HGV driver medicals are being suspended by two of the largest providers during the COVID-19 pandemic, writes Carol Millett.
Fit2Drive Medicals suspended its D4 medicals on 23 March, whilst D4Drivers suspended its medicals yesterday.
Fit2Drive Medicals carries out between 1,000 to 3,000 D4 medicals a month, whilst D4Drivers processes up to 5,000 drivers a month.
Speaking to Commercial Motor, Fit2Drive director Paul Andrews, who also runs Clitheroe-based Paul Andrews Haulage said: “We have taken the view it is safer not to expose drivers to the dangers of attending clinics during the pandemic and all our doctors back this decision.
“We also do not want to call drivers away from key duties supporting the supply chain during this time.”
Andrews added that the company is lobbying the DVLA to grant a grace period on D4 medicals during the pandemic.
D4Drivers announced a similar move today, following the government’s announcement of a nationwide lockdown.
Earlier this week, D4Drivers was on the hunt for operators with spare warehouse or office space in which they could carry out medicals after the pandemic resulted in some of the buildings in which D4Driver clinics are held having to close down.
However the company has now decided it will not take any new bookings during the COVID-19 outbreak and is contacting hundreds of customers to reschedule.
D4Drivers medical director Dr Grant Charlesworth-Jones called on DVLA to give the industry clearer guidance on whether D4 medicals should be carried out during the pandemic and particularly during the national lock-down which came into effect on 23 March.
Charlesworth-Jones said one option open to the DVLA is to suspend D4 renewals during the pandemic. However he warned that this option would only defer the need to process medicals and would create a “chronic” backlog.
“Alternatively the classification of the D4 medical as an essential medical would give us the go ahead to start the service up and deal with most of the demand - in a risk managed way in line with containing infection,” he suggested.
“Ultimately we are keeping an open mind to both options and have the flexibility to respond quickly to either - we are all at the mercy of the DVLA just to let us know what to do next,” he added.
Commercial Motor’s request for comment from DVLA on this issue has yet to receive a response.
From the Frontline: Impexparts MD Arthur Pinkney talks about how his company is dealing with COVID-19
“Brexit, general elections and grey imports, we’ve had to contend with the lot,” says Arthur Pinkney, MD at parts supplier Impexparts. “And just when we think it’s safe to come out of the water, COVID-19 comes along. There’s no time for strategy meetings, this thing is real and we have to react and react fast. There’s nothing in the rule book to guide us. The response from UK haulage has been gargantuan; this dirty draconian industry has pulled it out of the bag and is creating heroes by the minute.”
Pinkney tells Commercial Motor that as of today (25 March), Impexparts is still managing to offer a same day delivery service, albeit with reduced staff numbers. “We’re answering the phone, we’re getting stuff delivered. Are we breaking the rules? Yes we are, but we’re staying safe and getting product on the shelves.”
Pinkney is hopeful that the UK haulage industry will have a totally different public perception at the end of this outbreak, but he isn’t holding his breath.
“Truckers and the haulage industry in general are perceived as unnecessary polluters that block our roads and cause delays when they head off to the coast! But how things have changed in a matter of just a few short days. Today, social media, the media and the man on the street are saluting the efforts of our hauliers who are working tirelessly to keep the UK open, and quite rightly so. However, when we get through this, and we will, I wonder if memories will fade. Let’s hope not!”