Slightly alarmist reporting by the Daily Fail last week claimed that 1 million people with diabetes on insulin could lose their driving licences due to new EU legislation.
As with most stories, however, there is a grain of truth in this one, and here at ShootUp, we’re doing something about it. You can too.
The DVLA (who are responsible for issuing your driving licence here in the UK) are looking to implement some new EU legislation around driving and diabetes in October 2011.
Is that good news or bad news?
Both. There are some positive things in the legislation for people with diabetes treated by insulin. For example, it will end the blanket ban on people on insulin driving Group 2 vehicles (heavy goods vehicles and public service vehicles eg buses). They’ll now be assessed against a criteria and reviewed annually. Much better than the current blanket ban.
However, there are also some areas of real concern. The proposal states that “Drivers experiencing recurrent severe hypoglycaemia shall not be issued a licence – ‘severe recurrent hypoglycaemia’ is now defined as ‘a second severe hypoglycaemia during a period of 12 months’”. As it stands, this could include night-time hypos. I struggle to see how having 2 severe night-time hypos a year has any impact on my safety at the wheel.
For the full, balanced story, without the tabloid overexcitement, try reading the Diabetes UK response to the proposals.
What can we do?
We need to make sure these regulations are implemented sensibly, with proper consideration given to the realities of diabetes, rather than abstract declarations about numbers of hypos, indiscriminate of timing or cause being a main feature. Diabetes UK responded to these proposals back in April, but as yet I’ve not seen anything that gives me hope that their concerns have been taken on board. Therefore, I’ve sent the letter below to my MP, and Tim has done similar to his MSP. Feel free to steal from it and amend it to write to your own MP. If we don’t take action on this now, we do risk our ability to drive being compromised (and as Tim’s only just passed his test, it’d be a shame for him to face problems so soon!).
Diabetes & Driving changes – EU Regulations
The current proposal to amend the Driving License Standards for diabetes in light of EU regulations will be detrimental to the employment prospects and therefore the future health of your constituents who live with diabetes – unemployment is not conducive to maintaining good health with diabetes.
Approximately 1257 of your constituents, including me, have diabetes treated by insulin and will be affected by these proposed changes. On their behalf, could you please consider what actions you are able to take.
The current proposal from the DVLA is poorly defined and leaves the driving licences of people with diabetes on insulin subject to the vagaries of interpretation by those who are not subject matter experts. Diabetes UK, the charity for people with diabetes, have submitted their recommendations to the DVLA on amendments that should be made to the proposals, but to date I see no evidence of these recommendations being implemented.
Your immediate action would be very much appreciated.
A link to the relevant documentation is below, but if you need further information I’d be happy to discuss this with you.
Diabetes UK recommendations: http://www.diabetes.org.uk/upload/About%20us/Consultations/Diabetes%20UK%20Response%20to%20Annex%203%20Consultation%2028April11.pdf
You can find out who your MP/MSP/MLA is here. That will also give you an option to send them a message online. I always prefer to email my MP, it’s quicker.
Politicians are elected locally, so you need to be clear that this is an issue that will affect you and the people who vote for them. To give them the size of the problem locally, you can calculate the number of people on insulin in your area:
Diabetes UK say approximately 1 million people in the UK have diabetes treated by insulin (Type 1 & 2). The population of the UK is approximately 62million, so that means 1.6% of the population is on insulin.
You can find the number of people in your constituency here.
Calculate 1.6% of that figure eg there are 78,612 people in my constituency, so 78,612 multiplied by 0.016 gives you 1257 people with diabetes treated by insulin in my constituency.
Now get on with it and let us know how you get on.