The FTA has accused the government of "heel dragging" over its continued failure to confirm the suspension of D4 medicals for HGV drivers despite allegedly agreeing a workaround with the DVLA over a week ago.

The news comes as truck drivers fear they will lose their licences because GPs and private providers are no longer carrying out D4 medicals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We know that a workaround for the issue of driver medicals has been devised by the Department for Transport and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency,” said Elizabeth de Jong, FTA’s policy director, “and that that proposal was agreed by a committee of the Cabinet over a week ago. But for some reason government is not making the announcement and this is leaving drivers and businesses unable to deliver for their customers and the wider economy.

“From the day GP surgeries started restricting who could attend - which was before the national lockdown - HGV operators have been telling us that they have drivers who can’t renew their driving licence because they can’t get a medical.

"The FTA has been pressing the point with government as a matter of urgency and we were advised that a solution to the problem was agreed at Cabinet level last Tuesday (7 April).

“The situation is now critical: operators are having to stand down experienced and well-trained drivers just because somewhere high up in government the announcement is not being given 'a slot on the grid' - the communications management process in No. 10 which coordinates all government announcements.

"Bureaucracy should not be hindering the ability of logistics businesses to carry out their daily tasks, delivering for their customers right across the country.”

de Jong went on to reveal that one-in-three calls to the FTA's member advice line are now from operators who have drivers who cannot drive or soon will not be able to, because they can't get a medical to support their licence renewal.

It is estimated that around 10,000 HGV drivers a month are legally required to undergo a driver medical in order to renew their licences.

“Government needs to prioritise this announcement for the health of the nation’s supply chain and the wider economy,” she said. “Seemingly, the only thing stopping it is red tape, something which government could easily cut.”

Added Jonathan Backhouse of Backhouse Jones solicitors: "At the moment, there doesn't seem to be a solution to the driver medical conundrum. There is not a relaxation in their obligations. My advice is to try and engage with your doctor's surgery and line up medicals for when the lockdown is eased slightly, possibly in three weeks.

"The only thing you can do is try lining them up in advance and send drivers on medicals towards the end of the lockdown period.

"There are private doctors, not part of the NHS, that might be able to provide those services."