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Doctors will have to report unfit drivers to authorities

GPs will not need patients' permission to report them to DVLA if found unfit to drive

Accident

Doctors will have to start reporting drivers who are unfit to drive to authorities in an effort to further protect the public from unsafe drivers, the General Medical Council has said (GMC). 

In new draft guidance, GPs will not need the patient’s permission to report them to authorities like the DVLA, as the GMC says doctors have the public duty to protect individuals and the wider public from serious harm or even death.

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There has been increasing pressure on the Government to introduce new laws to re-test older drivers, as many – who have mistaken controls such as the throttle and brake – have been involved in fatal incidents with innocent bystanders.

Road Safety Week - drivers told to take care in lethal month on roads

The new guidance will ease the ethical dilemmas doctors face with patient confidentiality and public safety. The guidance will not only apply to patients who are motorists, but also in scenarios where GPs feel patients may have serious communicable diseases or pose a risk of violent crime.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, 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."

He also 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." 

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 licence. 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."

What do you think about the draft guidance? Leave us a comment below!

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