Confusion over medical assessments leaving Northern Ireland HGV drivers ‘unable to work’

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An anomaly over medical assessments has caused some HGV drivers in Northern Ireland to lose work during the coronavirus crisis, an industry body has warned.

Lorry and bus drivers over 45 must normally get a medical examination report signed by a doctor to renew their licence.

In April, the UK government waived this stipulation because of NHS doctors being unable to carry out the necessary examinations during the pandemic.

However, according to a report by the BBC, this has not been extended to Northern Ireland, and means a medical assessment is still required.

The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) has instead announced a DVA-British Medical Association (BMA) partnership “to ensure key worker driving licences are renewed as quickly as possible”.

However, many drivers have been unable to get a GP appointment because of a variety of factors, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) has said.

The association’s John Martin told the BBC: “It’s a massive issue as they are key workers. The department’s system is supposed to be put in place to work and address the problem.

“But, in reality, I’ve had dozens of reports of people who have run into difficulties. Many local surgeries didn’t know about the partnership, have said it is too much of a risk and will not do it or have said they must wait four to six weeks for an appointment.

“Quite a few drivers have not been able to renew their licences and, as a result, they have lost work,” he added.

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