MAJOR NEW ISSUE FOR DIABETIC TAXI DRIVERS
Since 1991, there has been a general ruling that taxi drivers cannot get a licence if they are diagnosed with diabetes mellitus requiring insulin treatment – or if they develop the condition, they lose their valuable licence except in “exceptional cases”.
However, the Public Carriage Office (PCO), in London, has passed new and enlightened legislation in basic terms. In January 2006 the PCO changed the rules to make it now acceptable that drivers who are on insulin and under regular supervision from their General Practitioner, may now legally have a licence to drive private hire or hackney carriages in the London area. “The original situation was that if you were a Group 2 driver on insulin you could not drive a taxi. The same rule applied if you acquired insulin diabetes whilst you were a taxi driver, you could not renew your licence. This unfortunately did mean that some worried taxi drivers could be encouraged to lie about their condition, which was not a wise thing to do for anyone”, explained Mike Shingler, who is the Secretary of the Birmingham and Solihull Taxi Association. Always ready to take up the fight to better the conditions for his members – and for any other taxi drivers in the country, Mike is very pleased indeed that London cabbies are getting a better deal in this “diabetic/insulin” affair, but he is now pleading on behalf of cabbies across the country for the same ruling to apply. “It is not right that our colleagues in London can drive whilst having a diabetic condition and that drivers in Birmingham and probably many of those among the other 400 boroughs across the UK, are still banned”.
“We don’t want our drivers to go underground and pretend they have not got diabetes. After all, you can drive an ordinary car with a controlled diabetic condition, so why not a cab? Obviously, the London PCO is more enlightened than the rest of the country and we want all the other licensing authorities to follow London’s sensible lead in this matter”.
“If you have insulin treated diabetes and are under constant medical supervision, then there is no danger either to yourself or any passenger. There are millions of motorists in this country driving cars every day with perfect safety, so why not cab drivers? Generally, people who have insulin treated diabetes are extremely responsible and it is in their own interests to keep a careful watch on their medication and diet. They are not seriously ill but simply have to keep the condition under careful surveillance. They lead perfectly normal lives and there is no possible reason to penalise taxi drivers in this way, leaving them without a job if they develop the condition.”
“As long as those with insulin diabetes can prove they have been having continuous treatment for a period of 4 weeks and that they are able to show a history of responsible diabetic control, coupled with proof that he or she has not suffered a hypoglycaemic attack for 12 months, they should be issued with a 12 month licence. Obviously, if the condition were not stable their doctor would not give them the all clear to drive anyway. Unfortunately, currently in the Birmingham area and in other parts of the country, if you have are an insulin treated diabetic, there is no licence for you.”
“London is saying that if you are looked after and they can see proof that you are being looked after, then they have no problem with issuing a licence”.
“We would like to find out just how many diabetic taxi drivers there are in the country who have been refused a licence – or even those who have not been completely truthful when applying for a cab licence,” added Mike.
“We want the authorities to look at this problem in Birmingham and around the country. There are many Licensing Authorities who need to address this problem now. The Secretary of State for Transport Medical Driving Panel are being realistic about this issue and if the diabetic condition is well maintained, then there is really no problem. The DVLA Medical Group in Swansea offers good guidelines and personally I simply want Birmingham to come into line with London on this. We are the biggest group of drivers outside London and we want the same justice. I trust mine is the voice of reason and that the Birmingham authorities will look again at the issue of allowing well-maintained insulin treated diabetics to have a taxi licence. We do have a duty of care to our passengers, but if diabetic drivers are responsible and their insulin medication is under careful medical supervision at all times, then they should be allowed a licence in line with their London colleagues.”
This is a big, major issue for the taxi business and Mike would like to hear from anyone who is affected by the problem, with a view to collating the attitude of licensing authorities around the UK. Contact him on 0121 333 4334 or email him on email@example.com
Or Drop a Line to
Taxi Today Unit 13 Holroyd Business Centre Carr Bottom Road Bradford BD5 9AG
Tel:01274 420029 ask for Tony
and we may be able to incorporate your letters in a further editorial.
For additional information on all aspects of diabetes you can also contact Diabetes UK on 0207424 1000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org