Chapel bus driver warns of more HGV problems after struggle to see GP for licence certificate

A Chapel-en-le-Frith bus driver has warned of another looming factor in Britain’s HGV crisis after struggling to access the medical certificate required to renew his licence.

Alec Eaton, 66, actually retired from his part-time role with High Peak Buses last week but wants to maintain his licence in case he decides to return to work – the same Class 2 licence used by many HGV drivers.

He said: “At my age you have to have a medical every year. I have an irregular heart beat so I have to get mine done by my GP, rather than one of the outsourcing services companies use.

“My licence expires on October 13 and I got the DVLA renewal paperwork through at the start of September, but when I called my GP surgery they couldn’t give me a date. They had no appointments for two weeks, and asked me to call back then. I insisted on a date and eventually got October 1, then they called back and pushed it to October 15.”

Could congestion in GP surgeries leave bus passengers stranded and cause more problems for HGV drivers?

He added: “If I was still employed, I would have been left unable to work until I’d got an appointment, sent all the documents off and then got my licence renewed. It could have been two or three weeks without income.

“If other drivers are in this situation, its only going to compound the problems we are already seeing. It’s not like the medicals are done on the NHS either, we have to pay £110 for the service. It needs highlighting if someone somewhere is thinking about not doing these appointments.”

All Class 2 drivers over the age of 45 are required to undergo checks every five years. Due to the pandemic, the Government issued drivers with automatic one year licence extensions in 2020 but the rules have now returned to normal.

In August, the British Medical Association said there could be a backlog of up to 200,000 DVLA applications that require a medical assessment.

Chapel bus driver Alec Eaton.

A spokesperson for Thornbrook Surgery, in Chapel, where Alec is a patient, said: “We continue to offer face to face HGV medicals weekly and have been since August 2020.

“Patients are able to book HGV medicals through a variety of providers in addition to their GP practice. There are no clinical requirements for a patient to use their own GP.”

Matlock doctor Peter Holden, who represents GPs on the BMA, said: “It is important that the government and DVLA are honest with the public regarding just how long this backlog will take to clear so that expectations are managed, and patients do not start making multiple calls to their GP practice while they wait for medical assessments.”

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