The chief executive of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has claimed that long waits for information from the NHS is the reason behind delays in processing driving licence applications from people with health conditions.
Julie Lennard, boss of the DVLA, told the Commons’ Transport Committee: “We’re very dependent in a lot of those cases for the NHS to come back to us, and the NHS has been under significant pressure… so for some people, they are waiting longer than we would like.”
She continued to say that where the DVLA does not have to wait for information on a user’s medical conditions, “we are making those decisions very rapidly.”
“Where more delay comes in is generally speaking when we are having to write out either for more information from the driver themselves, from their GP, from their consultants and that particularly becomes an issue when one person has multiple medical conditions, which is increasingly common.”
Since the pandemic, the agency has struggled with a huge backlog, which saw some people waiting so long for their driving licences they lost their jobs or developed mental health conditions.
However, Lennard continued, “Again, we do tend to be reliant on hearing back from the NHS to get those through.” Lennard stated that the committee was giving licencing applications from drivers whose livelihoods depended on it priority.
In November, DVLA revealed that 168,000 drivers with health conditions were still waiting for licences and that it had missed its post-pandemic recovery targets.
Although this year saw a big reduction in the backlog, Lennard stated that there were still obstacles to overcome.