Saturday, 10 March 2012

Doctors urge motorists with diabetes to 'steer clear' of driving licence scaremongering

DOCTORS are reassuring the UK's growing number of people with diabetes that changes to the way driving licences are issued will not spell the end of their days behind the wheel.

The Association of British Clinical Diabetologists (ABCD) is urging motorists who are diagnosed with diabetes to 'steer clear' of scaremongers who claim that as many as one million drivers may be forced off the roads as a result of a new European directive.

"The changes are not as far-reaching as many people had feared and focus in the main on people who have had two episodes of hypoglycaemia, and required medical intervention as a result, within a 12 month period," said ABCD national committee member Dr Ian Gallen, a consultant diabetologist at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust and an advisor of diabetes driving issues.

"So far relatively few licences have been revoked because of the change in definition of severe hypoglycaemia.

"However, what is deemed to be a hypoglycaemic episode can be confusing and open to misinterpretation. As a result it is absolutely vital that the exact nature of each episode is closely explored by a specialist in diabetes as part of the medical assessment.

"This approach will protect the safety of all road users, including the patient, while at the same time ensuring that the driver with diabetes is not disadvantaged by confusion over what is, and what is not, a hypoglycaemic episode."

The new EU directive also contains good news for insulin-treated diabetics who want to drive lorries and large minibuses as they will now be able to apply for the appropriate licence for the first time.

ABCD, which represents more than 500 consultant physicians and registrars specialising in the condition, is currently working with the DVLA to set up a network of expert assessors, and develop a set of safety standards, to help introduce this new initiative as smoothly as possible.

"With our support and guidance, we look forward to the first member of the insulin-treated diabetes community driving these vehicles safely on the nation's roads," said Dr Gallen. "This is an important development and a new era for them. It adds an extra dimension to their employment opportunities, which we strongly support." 

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