The Department for Transport (DfT) has officially announced that D4 medicals will temporarily not be required for lorry and bus drivers’ licence renewals, after weeks of uncertainty surrounding the requirement.
In an email broadcast on the afternoon of Friday 17 April, the DfT said it was taking action to protect essential supply chains by making temporary provisions for commercial drivers aged 45 and above to forgo the need for the D4 medical when renewing their entitlements.
Drivers waiting to renew licences have been in limbo for weeks, after medical providers and doctor’s surgeries closed their doors except to emergency patients, leaving them unable to acquire D4s.
But expected confirmation from the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) that the need for D4s would be lifted had until now failed to emerge, despite apparent assurances given by ministers to MPs.
“This change is temporary and will only apply where the driver does not have any existing notifiable health conditions, and their licence has not expired before 1 January 2020,” said DfT, in its announcement today.
“The licence will only be valid for one year instead of five years and the driver will need to submit a completed D4 when the licence is due for renewal in 12 months.
“Drivers will still be required to self-declare any medical conditions that may affect their ability to drive. Those with health issues that prevent them from driving safely will not have their licence renewed. All drivers must ensure they are medically fit to drive.”
Full details of the changes can be found on the gov.uk website.
Earlier in the day, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) said that “heel-dragging at the top of government” was to blame for the delays.
“We know that a workaround for the issue of driver medicals has been devised by the Department for Transport and the DVLA,” said Elizabeth de Jong, FTA’s policy director, prior to the announcement.
“That that proposal was agreed by a committee of thee 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.”
She continued: “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.
“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.”
The FTA said that one in three calls to its member advice line had been from operators with drivers unable or soon unable to drive because they could not get a medical to support licence renewal.
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) had also been raising the matter with government on a daily basis, but had acknowledged that the problem was “legally complex”.