The DVLA’s decision to continue its suspension of driver medicals has been condemned as “ludicrous” and poses a significant risk to road safety, according to doctors’ network D4Drivers.

It is now urging HGV drivers to book their medical despite the legal requirement currently being suspended and said the public would expect that temporary measures that increased the risk on the roads would have been reversed at the earliest opportunity.

In April last year, transport secretary Grant Shapps said that it was relaxing the medical requirement as part of the licence renewal process, in order to help ensure doctors and nurses could continue their fight against Covid-19.

The suspension was meant to last for 12 months, but the anniversary has now passed and the licensing agency told “The waiver remains ongoing for those drivers where there is no alternative for them.”

However, D4Drivers said it was concerned about the situation.

Tom Blain, D4Drivers commercial manager, said: “Whilst there was a clear need for licenses to be temporarily extended during the first lockdown to ensure that drivers were able to continue their essential work whilst medical services such as ours were shutdown, we are no longer in that situation and yet drivers are still being given the option to skip their medical.

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“This means each and every driver taking up the offer of a license extension is avoiding their medical unnecessarily and we are concerned about the impact this will have on road safety.”

Blain said it was already seeing an increase in the rate of drivers attending clinics with raised blood pressure and other health issues and that it was confident this was because of the extension.

And he said D4Drivers had received “zero communication” from the DVLA, despite it being the UK’s largest provider of medicals, and that it was now possible for a driver not to have had a medical for six years: “So, for the DVLA to be eroding the safety mechanisms even further by continuing to allow medicals to be avoided is ludicrous,” he added.

“We are therefore urging drivers to book their medical and submit it in the usual way.

“If employers are concerned about drivers who have already skipped their medical, they do not need to wait until their license expires and can book a screening assessment for a minimal fee with us at any one of our UK clinics to confirm if they continue to meet the Group 2 standard.”

We approached the British Medical Association (BMA) for comment and a spokesman said: “Any system must carefully balance and recognise both the pressure on general practice as it continues to respond to the pandemic, as well as the need to maintain public safety and support essential transport and infrastructure.”

The BMA spokesman added: “While the one-year exemption for requiring a D4 remains, the BMA continues to be in discussions with the DVLA to ensure that any new developments are acceptable to the medical profession while providing adequate safeguards to the public.”