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Devilment by Doctors

Driving licence revoked, but for a different reason

This item replaces the previous write up "DVL Empire Strikes Back? Author's driving licence revoked after writing critical review about the DVLA!"

Some time ago I wrote on my website an article criticising the DVLA. It was on 24th January 2006 that this was published, and subsequently on 18th January 2007 I received a letter from the DVLA telling me that they had revoked my driving licence.

Coincidence? Or maybe not? Whilst it might have been prematurely facile to assume there was a direct cause and effect behind this situation, I felt there is something which is sufficiently interesting that would require further investigation!

You might think that the DVLA are endowed with a divine right to bestow driving licences on whomsoever they choose, and to revoke such licences wherever they feel justified in so doing. In dictatorships and totalitarian systems of government, this would be the expected way of things. Another feature of such regimes is that dissidents are not tolerated. People writing material criticising the government or aspects thereof, are punished, not simply out of retribution or revenge, but in order to send a message to would-be critics, that writing unfavourably about the establishment is not going to be tolerated. This was what I considered was happening at the time.

Another idea is that the DVLA have a method, almost like Santa Claus, of determining if someone's conduct or health is good or bad. I would seriously question that notion, especially in light of the following paragraph from the DVLA Drivers Medical Group letter:

"It is clear from information received that you are experiencing problems with your powers of memory and/or understanding, to a degree that is likely to make it unsafe for you to drive. Regrettably, driving must cease".

Now let's examine that carefully: My memory, for one thing, is actually quite good. I can remember PI to 30 decimal places without really trying, and I can remember people's phone numbers, and my credit card number, and most of the page names at this 3,500 page website. I can remember most of the knowhow I learnt when I was getting my degree in Computer Science even though it was 25 years ago, and I can remember the fax number of the DVLA from when I sent them a fax earlier on today to put in a Freedom of Information Act request. My memory is at least "impressive", and has been described by some as "scary".

Having dispelled the "you've got a bad memory - you aren't safe to drive" notion, let's move on the the question of understanding. I understand a reasonable amount of Einstein's theory of relativity, certainly enough to explain the basics to someone who didn't understand it. I understand the basis behind Godel's theory of mathematical incompleteness, and I understand the ways a lot of people drive badly on the roads, and how to avoid them crashing into me. I understand how to write websites in html and how to run this website as a profitable international business, and how to write material in an expressive and lucid manner. Plus, on a good day I can sometimes even understand the hidden motives behind things which authorities and establishments do.

If all drivers whose memory and/or understanding was less acute than mine were banished from the roads, it would solve the problem of traffic congestion somewhat! ;-)

So, as it's not my memory or understanding that's deficient, perhaps it is the "information" that's at fault. Perhaps the DVLA are in receipt of false information? This would have been the case at the time I wrote "Ultimately this will be discovered one way or another, as these matters have to be open for investigation according to the freedom of information act. We will see if there is any truth in such a title yet". In the fullness of time, this is what happened. It was eventually revealed that there was a reason and some things going on in the background which had caused the problem.

Incidentally, there was no trial, judge, jury, or anything up-front to suggest that the revocation of my driving licence would happen. The DVLA simply waited for the time of renewal, and then when I handed in the licence to be renewed as per usual, they just kept it. No evidence was presented and I had no opportunity to put my case. It was as if there were hidden proceedings going on behind my back. Following the sudden revelation that my driving licence had been revoked, the onus is now on me, so it would seem, to prove my innocence. (This is counter to the commonly held belief that in the UK a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty).

The simple but speculative explanation for what has happened was that it was simply a matter of retribution. I have written about the DVLA Medical Department, and they have punished me for it! This may have seemed likely at the time, but it now turns out that the events are quite different to that. Therefore, my apologies to the DVLA, and instead of the write-up now featuring a philosophical commentary about the "revenge theory" and its ramifications, I'll now examine what happened in the light of the new evidence:

It now appears that it was the "information" aspect that was at fault. I have now got a copy of the form filled in by my doctor. This contained information radically divergent from the truth! So, now the complaint is closer to home than the DVLA in Swansea! Upon putting in a "Freedom of Information Act" request to the doctor's surgery, they were legally compelled to divulge the form which my doctor (now my ex-doctor) had sent to the DVLA. My doctor had told the DVLA that I was severely mentally impaired in my judgement, addicted to drugs, was possibly a dangerous driver, and that I had been sectioned and compulsorily detained under the mental health act. None of this was true, and I have subsequently been advised that I may have a case of libel against the doctor in question. Doctors are not allowed to tell lies about the patient, and if it turns out that there were malicious lies, then the doctor can be struck off.

Both the DVLA and the General Medical Council were looking into the matter, because if the problem is indicative of a wider issue, then there are "fitness to practice" considerations. Plus, maybe the DVLA would like to ask for the 36.50 back, which they paid for the form to be filled in? I wonder how many half-filled-in forms a doctor can scribble on a public holiday and how much money they can rake in by such easy means, while leaving the patients to suffer the consequences of the doctor's incompetence.

After over a year of being banned from driving, though no fault of my own, I was eventually given a chance to be independently assessed by a doctor on behalf of the DVLA. Soon after that assessment I was given my driving licence back. So, the DVLA have got things right in the end. Well Done to the DVLA!

Looking back at what happened I can forgive the DVLA for making the mistake of revoking my driving licence in the first place, as they were given false information by a doctor at the time.

I believe there is a failing in the system whereby a doctor can condemn a patient for no good reason, and the lies are just accepted at the DVLA without having any proper discussion. There's also a failing in the system as the doctor's statement is passed without the patient having any say in the matter. If I hadn't been so keen to seek out the truth then the problem would have gone on in secret. Most patients would have no idea how to have the situation researched and uncovered.

Ultimately, though, the blame is upon the doctor. What has happened seems to go beyond incompetence, and suggests some level of malice, though it's difficult to say for certain what type of motive there was for making such an appalling statement to the DVLA. Could it be jealousy, as I get paid more than a doctor? Or maybe could it have been a cost-cutting exercise by the doctor's surgery, to get rid of patients who were unusually expensive in their prescriptions? These seem such poor excuses for mucking-up a person's life for over a year and causing such personal inconvenience. It's not beyond the realms of possibility that the problems in Belize were partly influenced by the loss of driving licence. Life does not go "on hold" just because a doctor sends in a false statement and causes the patient's licence to be revoked. I am still emigrating for tax purposes.

This whole episode makes it difficult to put any trust in the medical profession. Maybe such trust could be regained, depending on the outcome of an enquiry by the GMC. However, now that time has passed and the GMC have effectively swept it all under the carpet, my opinion of the GMC is that it is a clique run by doctors, for doctors, and never mind the patients. It is, in my opinion, a back-patting hand-shaking club for doctors!

It is sometimes said "Doctors can BURY their mistakes"! Well, that may be true in some instances, but sometimes they can't.

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