GPs have been accused of potentially contributing to a nationwide shortage of truck drivers that has left shelves in some supermarket aisles empty.
The drivers say GPs told them ‘exorbitant’ fees of up to £ 160, along with six week wait times, to get life-saving medical checks. Some drivers say their GP has even refused to make an appointment to carry out checks.
All truck drivers must be assessed as “fit to drive” before they can apply for a HGV license. Drivers over the age of 45 must complete the process every five years and those over the age of 65 must complete it annually.
Controls were downgraded during the pandemic, resulting in a growing backlog of claims from private providers, many of whom charge a fraction of the amount GPs make.
This week, the British Medical Association, a body representing physicians, wrote to the government urging ministers to require drivers to get fitness for duty checks through their own GPs.
The BMA claimed that only a general practitioner with full access to a driver’s medical records could properly perform the assessment. He warned that drivers could withhold important information about conditions like epilepsy or diabetes in order to get a license.
Dr Peter Holden, chairman of the BMA’s professional fees committee, said drivers are “bypassing the line” at their local GPs by going to a private provider.
While conceding that private companies could help reduce the backlog of heavy truck license applications, he said this created a risk that “the medical conditions may be intentionally or unintentionally underestimated and have already occurred. had a serious impact on road safety “.
The allegation angered truck drivers who responded to the allegation that they risked road safety, saying they were forced to look elsewhere because GPs overcharged what is a relatively quick medical exam. and simple. A driver accused general practitioners of “taking advantage”.
Harrie Vogels, a truck driver for 40 years, said the prices charged by general practitioners were “ridiculous”. Private companies are able to do the medicals for around £ 50 – around £ 100 less than GPs often charge – he said. Dozens of companies advertise checks on Google, citing similar fees.
Mr Vogels, who is 67, has to undergo a new check every year as well as an eye exam costing £ 40. “It’s a lot of money. I’ve been in some of these private companies myself and they’re real doctors. Most of them work weekends, which is when the drivers have time.
“I think [the BMA] want to get rid of it so that GPs can get more money, ”Vogels said.
The BMA did not respond to the allegation.
Another driver, who declined to be named, said general practitioners caused a bottleneck in license applications that would become worse if they had a “monopoly” on fitness for duty checks .
Gerald Davison, who is seeking a license, said he was quoted £ 135 by his GP.
“The price compared to private services is exorbitant. If you can get a service, in good faith where you’ll be honest, with a licensed physician, why would you pay more than double the price and wait a very long time? “
“I suspect my GP practice is busy enough like this and sets its rates to dissuade patients from using them for this purpose,” he said.
“The review is a relatively quick process. I see no justification for charges over £ 100. “
The BMA did not explain why the fees for general practitioners were higher.
Bosses in the trucking industry have said a backlog of Driver and Vehicle License Authority permit applications was partly to blame for growing problems with the supply of food and a host of other commodities.
Thousands of requests have been blocked due to the pandemic, exacerbating the shortage of truck drivers. The DVLA blamed the social distancing rules in force at its Swansea headquarters as well as the strikes. Last week, it began processing applications from motorists who submitted permit forms in early June.
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This notice was published: 2021-08-26 17:27:11