HGV driver medicals threatened
A shortage of doctors combined with moves by landlords to close premises during the coronavirus outbreak is preventing HGV drivers from getting their D4 medicals renewed. D4Drivers, which carries out more than 5,000 D4 medicals a month at sites across the UK, has been forced to put out a national appeal to firms that have spare warehouse or office capacity after some of its clinics were forced to close down during the pandemic.
Medical director Dr Grant Charlesworth-Jones said: “In our efforts to keep the nation's drivers on the road at this critical time, we are working hard to keep our service running so that drivers can get their medicals to renew their entitlements. However as many of our venues close their doors, in some locations we are being left without spaces to examine drivers and run our clinics. Therefore, in order to help us keep our drivers on the road and our stores stocked we are putting out a national appeal to businesses that have office or warehouse space which they can offer to us to hold clinics for driver medicals.
Charlesworth-Jones said the need to be able to offer D4 Medicals in the midst of the pandemic was critical to ensure the supply chain keeps moving. “Without our service, drivers cannot renew their licenses and the DVLA have so far indicated that they will not extend renewal dates, which will mean they are forced off the road. If this happens it will have a massive impact for the 5000-plus HGV drivers we see every month, and a greater impact on our country’s ability to get supplies to its stores and medical facilities. GP surgeries are already overwhelmed and cannot help so drivers have nowhere to go.”
He added: “We are happy to discuss payment or incentives including discounted medicals for use of any suitable premises.”
The DVLA has yet to respond to a request for information on whether it plans to suspend D4 medicals during the coronavirus outbreak.
Guaranteed driver interviews at Tuffnells
Tuffnells has pledged to guarantee anyone out of work because of COVID-19 an interview as it looks to hire more than 100 new warehouse workers and lorry drivers.
The announcement comes after the chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, Helen Dickinson, said the UK does not have short supplies but the challenge is "people" and "lorries".
Tuffnells has roles available at depots across its whole network including Birmingham, Aberdeen, Leicester, Leeds, Bristol and Sheffield.
It is experiencing extra demand on its delivery service and is under pressure to cover those absent due to sickness, self-isolation and dependent leave.
Tuffnells executive chairman Michael Holt has admitted the whole supply chain is facing an unprecedented challenge and all similar operations needed to hire more staff to cope with demand: “It’s been an extremely difficult period for us all, no matter where you are or what you do for work," he said.
"The sheer rise in demand for goods in recent weeks means we are working extremely hard to deliver the supplies that businesses and customers need to operate as best they can considering the circumstances.
“Unfortunately, due to COVID-19’s impact on the economy, many hard-working and extremely skilled individuals have found themselves without work, through no fault of their own. That’s why we have made this pledge so it gives people with the relevant skills in the locations where we have roles the opportunity to bounce back quickly.”
Tuffnells has also made it clear that it is taking every precaution necessary to keep its staff and interviewees safe and to follow the government's advice to help halt the spread of the virus.
As the situation continues, Holt expects further roles to become available: “Like Helen [Dickinson] said on Saturday, the kind of spike in demand we are seeing is similar to that around the festive period," he said. "Meaning if this continues to be the case for a number of weeks and months we could in fact have to make further roles available.
“I’m sure all business leaders in the supply chain are facing similar challenges and they will all agree with me when I say that we are so proud of the long hours and dedication the workforce has put in. I know that the team at Tuffnells is going above and beyond. It’s a case of us all sticking together and helping the nation get through this extremely challenging period.