AIO Challenges the DVLA
AIO challenges “Awful DVLA letter”
The Association for Independent Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians (AIO) has challenged the DVLA in respect of letters that are being sent to members of the public by the ‘Drivers Medical Group’ which include the wording ‘Based on information that has been received, it has been decided that you should have an eyesight examination with Specsavers, however, due to the ongoing situation with Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), we are unable to request this examination at present.’
Apart from being very poorly worded, this sentence is both misleading and not in accordance with the provisions of law.
It is misleading because a visual Esterman Field Test does not constitute an eye examination. The terminology suggests that the Government is requiring (and would therefore presumably be paying for) a complete eye examination with Specsavers rather than a DVLA visual Esterman Field Test; if this is the case, what is Government requiring by way of an ‘eye examination’?
The wording is also not within the provisions of law. There is no regulatory requirement that an Esterman Field Test must be conducted by Specsavers for the purposes of assessing fitness to hold a driving licence. It is the case that the Government will only pay for an Esterman Field Test if it is undertaken at Specsavers under contract. However, each individual that is required to have an Esterman Field Test by the DVLA has the option to ask the optical practice of which they are a patient to conduct this for them by a GOC regulated practitioner on the basis that they will pay for it.
AIO has asked for the immediate withdrawal of the letter that is being issued to patients, and for appropriate wording to be incorporated that provides complete clarity as to the requirement enshrined in regulation to have an Esterman Field Test as required by the DVLA.
By way of constructive input AIO has suggested the following:
‘It has been determined that you should have an Esterman Field Test in respect of your vision. If you wish the test to be paid for by the taxpayer, you should go to a Specsavers outlet. If you prefer to use your own opticians you should check that they offer the Esterman Field Test, and also if any fee may be payable by you. Please note that an Esterman Field Test does not constitute a full eye examination and you should continue to attend these as advised by your optometrist.'”
AIO has copied its communication to the DVLA to the Secretary of State at the Department for Transport for his information.
Dr Christian French, Chair of AIO said ‘it is deeply disturbing that the Drivers Medical Group in the DVLA does not appear to know the difference between an eyesight examination and an Esterman Field Test.
Most importantly, for patients that do not know the difference, the DVLA letter is not just misleading, but is potentially detrimental to public health; and this against the backdrop of Covid-19.
It is also deeply upsetting for Independents with long standing patient relationships that the DVLA is signaling that only Specsavers can perform the Esterman Field Test for drivers licence purposes which is simply not the case. On the basis that Government should be doing what it can to save taxpayers money in these very challenging economic times it is perverse that they appear to be actively discouraging the public from paying for their own DVLA test to be undertaken.’
AIO has issued a separate press release about an official challenge to the DVLA / Specsavers Contract