To spare families from the pain of having to convince stubborn loved ones they are no longer fit to get behind the wheel, MP Rachel Maclean says GPs will inform the DVLA as a matter of course when dementia is diagnosed. A driving assessment will then be arranged, under Ms Maclean’s proposals. MP Ms TheTory MP for Redditch, Worcestershire, said: “Giving up driving represents a tremendous loss of independence. To be the one who is having that conversation is really difficult and this Bill would mean notification takes place without it having to cause all that conflict within the family or within a caring relationship.
“The notification takes place, it goes to the DVLA, then they will kick-off the process of requiring the person to come for a supplementary driving test.”
Ms Maclean told how she had first-hand experience of trying to persuade her doctor mother, who has Alzheimer’s, to stop driving. She said: “[She’s] a very strong-willed lady and she definitely wasn’t ready to give up driving.
“I just feel it’s very important to have a system that’s set up to support families going through this process, rather than making it more difficult than it needs to be.”
Dr Alison Evans, of Alzheimer’s Research UK, backed the idea of a driving assessment.
She said: “It can be difficult to maintain a balance between enabling a person with dementia to live independently and ensuring the safety of that person and those around them.This balance will need continual reassessment as the condition progresses.”
However, Caroline Abrahams, of Age UK, said she did not support the notion of an automatic driving test for patients.
She said: “A dementia diagnosis need not necessarily mean that it is not safe for a person to drive, certainly in the shorter term.
“We do not think that a diagnosis of dementia should, in and of itself, trigger an immediate assessment as to whether a person is fit to drive but, if they are in any doubt or are worried about this, there is advice available to help them make a sensible decision.”