Desperate HGV drivers have criticised the DVLA for risking their livelihoods and going AWOL after the agency failed to process their licences following a medical.

One driver said his professional driving entitlement expired in May 2021 and yet he was still struggling to contact the DVLA and find out what was going on.

The trucker, who has multiple sclerosis and has to renew his licence annually, said: “I returned the forms on time.

“I was then asked to have a face-to-face appointment with my neurologist, as all appointments had been telephone only because of covid. That took place in October 2021.

“My neurologist submitted a letter confirming I was still fit to drive HGVs shortly afterwards. I still have no licence.”

The driver, who asked to remain anonymous, said he had also been unable to contact the DVLA’s drivers’ medical group: “I have been trying to get through to this number for the past eight months and it doesn't matter what time of day or which day you ring, nor whether you ring directly or are put through by another department, the result is the same,” he complained.

“I have also tried using the webchat service. This, too, is unavailable.”

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“I have no way of contacting anyone about this, so cannot do anything to avoid my licence being revoked and my livelihood lost.”

Another driver contacted and asked: “What has happened to all the enquiry lines at the DVLA?

“Apart from an inability to get through on the phone, it also appears that none of the advertised email addresses work – in particular for driving medical conditions.”

The licensing agency apologised for the delays and said it was experiencing a reduced number of staff to deal with 60,000 items of mail it receives every day: “Demand to speak to our contact centre is currently very high, our staff are working hard to answer calls, but there will be delays for customers who call,” said a DVLA spokesman.

“Paper applications and more complex transactions, for example if medical investigations are needed will take longer and we’re sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

“We have prioritised vocational driving licence applications throughout the pandemic, and continue to do so.”

The spokesman added: “When considering an application to issue a driving licence we aim to make a decision as quickly as possible.

“However where we require additional information from a driver’s doctor, or need the driver to take an assessment, we are wholly reliant on receiving this information before a decision can be made.”