St Helens Council amend 'fit and proper' test for taxi drivers

All taxi drivers in England are required to undertake a fit and proper test
All taxi drivers in England are required to undertake a fit and proper test

Changes have been made to the process that determines whether someone is a “fit and proper” person to hold a taxi licence, following concerns from GPs.

All taxi drivers in England are required to undertake a fit and proper test in order to hold a license.

The majority of licensing authorities switched to the DVLA model of ‘Group 2’ medicals a number of years ago, which is a crucial element of the test.

Medicals are carried out by a GP, although this does not have to be the driver’s own GP provided, they have access to their medical records.

A range of conditions are covered by the medical including Neurology, Cardiovascular, diabetes, psychiatric disorders, visual disorders and renal and respiratory disorders.

The medical is carried out once for under 45s, every five years for drivers aged 45 to 65 and annualy for over 65s.

It is the responsibility of the driver to notify the local authority’s licensing department of a change in medical circumstances which may affect their ability to drive.

Late last year, St Helens, Knowsley and Halton councils all received a letter from the Mid Mersey Local Medical Committee requesting if it could discuss the forms the councils use for the medicals.

Following talks with Mid Mersey LMC, it was agreed that St Helens would table an item for discussion at the Liverpool City Region licensing managers’ meeting.

At the meeting in February, it was agreed that if any changes were to be made, then they would be adopted across the whole city region, in line with existing partnership working.

The issue raised by Mid Mersey LMC focused on the final page of the assessment, which asks the GP carrying out the assessment if the individual meets the Group 2 medical standards or not.

The GPs felt this left them open to legal challenge so requested that this question be removed from the form, giving licensing authorities the ultimate responsibility of approving the fitness of a driver.

On Wednesday, St Helens Council’s licensing and environmental protection committee agreed to the change.

A council report says that detailed DVLA guidance around medicals contains a great amount of useful information that is simple to understand.

As such, the regional licensing managers agreed that they would be competent in carrying out the final decision of whether the applicant is fit and proper in terms of medical assessment

Lorraine Simpson, St Helens Council’s licensing manager, said: “We wanted the city region to stay together on the changes we were making, so all six authorities have made the changes to the form.

“The GP still signs every page and every important section and essentially, if the GP was to report anything on any of those sections, it’s likely we wouldn’t grant the licence anyway because they would have already expressed a concern.”