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DVLA Medical Complaint - Unfairly Revoked License


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I am very unhappy with the way I've been treated by DVLA. I had an incident in September 2012 where I fainted whilst driving on the job (bus) due to lack of food intake and overworked hours. No police citation was given, and no one was hurt. I was immediately taken to hospital and seen by a physician but by that time all signs were back to normal. It was explained that I had suffered a hypoglycaemic episode, also called a vasovagal collapse. I had not eaten that day and had been working excessive hours, and it was determined that this was the cause of the blackout. After taking some time off work SSP, then getting a medical clearance from my GP and from our company OHS doctor, I went back to work and drove for 3 months without incident.

 

Then in January I received a letter from DVLA advising me to surrender my car license for 6 months and bus license for 12 months because of information received from my GP that the blackout was "unexplained". Apparently she had not mentioned anything in her correspondence about the lack of food intake and overworked hours. So I made some phone calls and sent letters from the hospital physician and my OHS doctor which contained clear details about the diagnosis and cause.

 

Long story short, about a thousand phone calls later, and after two unsuccessful appeals DVLA will not budge. They continue to use the terms HISTORY and MEDICAL CONDITION regardless of it being a one off incident. They have ignored all supporting letters and information I have provided because they will not admit that they acted impulsively. When I phone, I am not allowed to speak with any members of the medical team who make the decisions.

 

I have thoroughly read DVLA regulations on their web site and do not find anything about my particular circumstance that would warrant taking this action. There are only guidelines for reporting known medical conditions but no reference to a one off incident such as this. Why does DVLA continue to treat this as a HISTORY or MEDICAL CONDITION when it is not?

 

I have been driving for over 25 years and never had an incident such as this. I am a non-smoker, non-drinker and never take drugs of any sort.

 

I have spoken with my solicitor but I don't believe he has the courage to take on DVLA or NHS. He uses the excuse that taking the case to court would take much longer than waiting for the year to pass to reapply for my bus driving license.

 

I am broke and unemployed with a family to feed, which is unfortunate as I am fully fit to be working. I admit fault that my own neglect of my diet caused the blackout, but I do not feel it is fair to apply such a penalty as to lose a whole year's wages.

 

If anyone has any ideas I would really appreciate it. I plan on seeing CAB Monday as I am out of resources. I honestly believe that both DVLA and the NHS are equally responsible for mis-managing this case.

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I am very unhappy with the way I've been treated by DVLA. I had an incident in September 2012 where I fainted whilst driving on the job (bus) due to lack of food intake and overworked hours. No police citation was given, and no one was hurt. I was immediately taken to hospital and seen by a physician but by that time all signs were back to normal. It was explained that I had suffered a hypoglycaemic episode, also called a vasovagal collapse. I had not eaten that day and had been working excessive hours, and it was determined that this was the cause of the blackout. After taking some time off work SSP, then getting a medical clearance from my GP and from our company OHS doctor, I went back to work and drove for 3 months without incident.

 

Then in January I received a letter from DVLA advising me to surrender my car license for 6 months and bus license for 12 months because of information received from my GP that the blackout was "unexplained". Apparently she had not mentioned anything in her correspondence about the lack of food intake and overworked hours. So I made some phone calls and sent letters from the hospital physician and my OHS doctor which contained clear details about the diagnosis and cause.

 

Long story short, about a thousand phone calls later, and after two unsuccessful appeals DVLA will not budge. They continue to use the terms HISTORY and MEDICAL CONDITION regardless of it being a one off incident. They have ignored all supporting letters and information I have provided because they will not admit that they acted impulsively. When I phone, I am not allowed to speak with any members of the medical team who make the decisions.

 

I have thoroughly read DVLA regulations on their web site and do not find anything about my particular circumstance that would warrant taking this action. There are only guidelines for reporting known medical conditions but no reference to a one off incident such as this. Why does DVLA continue to treat this as a HISTORY or MEDICAL CONDITION when it is not?

 

I have been driving for over 25 years and never had an incident such as this. I am a non-smoker, non-drinker and never take drugs of any sort.

 

I have spoken with my solicitor but I don't believe he has the courage to take on DVLA or NHS. He uses the excuse that taking the case to court would take much longer than waiting for the year to pass to reapply for my bus driving license.

 

I am broke and unemployed with a family to feed, which is unfortunate as I am fully fit to be working. I admit fault that my own neglect of my diet caused the blackout, but I do not feel it is fair to apply such a penalty as to lose a whole year's wages.

 

If anyone has any ideas I would really appreciate it. I plan on seeing CAB Monday as I am out of resources. I honestly believe that both DVLA and the NHS are equally responsible for mis-managing this case.

 

I can only wish you the best of luck, but fear you have an uphill battle, not only because of the "higher standards" they apply for Group 2 (LGV/PCV) drivers.

 

The SOLE assessor is the 'Secretary of State', who relies on the panel of experts (assessors) DVLA uses : as you have found you aren't allowed to know who has assessed your case, or what information has actually been given to the 'medical advisors' by the (non-healthcare professional) DVLA staff (who do most of the admin work).

 

You may also have found that their expected timescale is "decision within 18 weeks" ; which can extend longer if they say they are "awaiting medical reports".

 

Additionally, if their assessment seems at odds with your specialists recommendations, you can ask them to reconsider but the don't have to, nor explain the details behind their decision, at which point your only recourse is an appeal (to a Magistrates' Court in the first instance).

 

As for " It was explained that I had suffered a hypoglycaemic episode, also called a vasovagal collapse" : these are 2 very different conditions.

 

A hypoglycaemic episode means an episode where the glucose level in your blood went low enough to give you symptoms. Most commonly seen in diabetics who take insulin (and who then haven't had enough carbohydrates in), for most people who aren't diabetic the body usually responds by mobilising stores of a substance called glycogen, held in the liver. This might be a cause for concern for DVLA in so far as "if they didn't mobilise their glycogen store, might it recurr?"

 

Did you have a documented low blood sugar level? If not, how are they sure it was a hypoglycaemic episode, or is this a "best guess"?

 

On a similar note, a "vasovagal collapse" is (in effect) "a bad faint". Vagus nerve stimulation (for whatever reason) slows the heart rate, dropping the blood pressure. Not enough blood pressure in the blood vessels (hence the 'vaso' from "vascular"/ blood vessels") and you get nature's way of telling you it can't pump enough blood uphill to get enough oxygen to the brain : and you faint. This is compounded if some of the blood vessels that have some muscular tone to them have relaxed : lowering the pressure in them further.

 

This is why if someone has fainted their pulse is often slow (at first!) then becoming rapid/weak as they start to recover.

 

So, you can have a hypoglycaemic episode without a vasovagal attack, and vice versa. You could (in theory) get both : but on probabilities alone it would likely be one or the other : both together would be rare.

 

I mention this as if you want to take on DVLA you might need to establish which it was, or if your specialists are saying "it was one or the other, we don't know which " or they are saying "it was both" : you don't want to give DVLA any wiggle room!

Edited by BazzaS
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Thank you BazzaS for the information. I do agree, there is some grey area. Here are a few more details... when I first reported to a nearby facility I was seen by a Nurse Practitioner, who checked my vital signs, which appeared normal, so he sent me on to Victoria A&E where more tests would be performed with heart monitor equipment not available at the first. So, the nurse from the first stated "vasovagal collapse" on the discharge sheet, while the second who was a Doctor, stated "hypoglycemia" on his discharge sheet. Please correct me if I'm mistaken but I understand that reaching a Hypoglycemic state can result in a Vasovagal Collapse (fainting). When I look up vasovagal it does state that it can be triggered by hunger and lack of sleep, whereas Hypoglycemia is also a result of low blood sugar. So essentially the two can both contribute to an episode like this. Am I right?

 

Anyhow, I also agree that these diagnoses were their "best guess" as I have no prior medical history of anything whatsoever...

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Thank you BazzaS for the information. I do agree, there is some grey area. Here are a few more details... when I first reported to a nearby facility I was seen by a Nurse Practitioner, who checked my vital signs, which appeared normal, so he sent me on to Victoria A&E where more tests would be performed with heart monitor equipment not available at the first. So, the nurse from the first stated "vasovagal collapse" on the discharge sheet, while the second who was a Doctor, stated "hypoglycemia" on his discharge sheet. Please correct me if I'm mistaken but I understand that reaching a Hypoglycemic state can result in a Vasovagal Collapse (fainting). When I look up vasovagal it does state that it can be triggered by hunger and lack of sleep, whereas Hypoglycemia is also a result of low blood sugar. So essentially the two can both contribute to an episode like this. Am I right?

 

Anyhow, I also agree that these diagnoses were their "best guess" as I have no prior medical history of anything whatsoever...

 

Hypoglycaemia can cause loss of consciousness .... most of the body can utilise other energy sources than sugar, but the brain can't, it can only use glucose, so low blood sugar (glucose) can cause unconsciousness even with normal blood pressure. Did they actually document a low blood sugar at any stage?.

 

Vasovagal events can cause unconsciousness even with normal blood sugar.

 

It may be that each diagnosis was "best guess" : but that doesn't help you in your battle against DVLA.

If you never had a documented low blood sugar resist getting labelled as having had a hypoglycaemic episode.

 

If you never had a documented low blood pressure / low heart rate resist getting labelled as having had "a vasovagal episode". Medicine does love its posh names, but they might not help you against DVLA.

 

If possible you might push to get a diagnosis of "faint, caused by not eating" (or even better : "faint from not eating / drinking enough fluids") : DVLA are less likely to have a category that they can say "no driving" for "a simple faint".

 

Terms like "vasovagal " and "hypoglycaemic " make it easier for them to medicalise it and say "no driving", whereas "single episode of fainting, from not eating / drinking" leaves you able to truthfully say "no" if asked about hypoglycaemia or vasovagal episodes and say "no risk of recurrence, I'll drink fluids little and often, and not skip meals"!

Edited by BazzaS
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Again I agree with you. As much as the doctors were helpful in trying to sort out what had happened, in hindsight I wish they’d kept it simple. There was no low blood sugar, all vitals were fine, ECG normal, etc. so really there was no test that proved anything certain.

 

I am in the process of getting my car license reinstated this month so that will help my situation a bit. At least I can secure some other employment until I get my bus license back in September. I am very fortunate no one was injured, as I have read of incidents similar to mine (although not whilst driving a bus) where others have suffered much worse for falling asleep at the wheel and causing a collision.

 

Whether or not I decide to try and reclaim for lost wages, I'm still unsure, think I may just have to take the loss and be grateful it wasn't more serious.

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Again I agree with you. As much as the doctors were helpful in trying to sort out what had happened, in hindsight I wish they’d kept it simple. There was no low blood sugar, all vitals were fine, ECG normal, etc. so really there was no test that proved anything certain.

I am in the process of getting my car license reinstated this month so that will help my situation a bit. At least I can secure some other employment until I get my bus license back in September. I am very fortunate no one was injured, as I have read of incidents similar to mine (although not whilst driving a bus) where others have suffered much worse for falling asleep at the wheel and causing a collision.

Whether or not I decide to try and reclaim for lost wages, I'm still unsure, think I may just have to take the loss and be grateful it wasn't more serious.

I think you are very wise and taking the correct action as you realised that the implications could have been far worse. I wish you well for the future and hope you find a suitable job.

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If you look at it from a different point of view, if you had kept your licence crashed and killed a couple of passengers how happy do you think their family would be to find out that you had passed out before and nothing had been done?

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Are you not in a union? How long had you been employed at the company?

Please Note

 

The advice I offer will be based on the information given by the person needing it. All my advice is based on my experiences and knowledge gained in working in the motor and passenger transport industries in various capacities. Although my advice will always be sincere, it should be used as guidence only.

 

I would always urge to seek face to face professional advice for clarification prior to taking any action.

 

Please click my reputation 'star' button at the bottom of my profile window on the left if you found my advice useful.

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