Waiting times for ‘medical’ driving licences has increased by over 130,000 in 12 months.

The number of drivers waiting for a medical driving licence has increased by 132,869 in 12 months, new figures suggest.

Medical driving licences are issued to drivers who suffers from a condition that needs to be declared to the DVLA. This can include diabetes, sleep apnoea, epilepsy or a heart condition.

The long wait

There were 203,890 applications awaiting a medical driving licence decision on March 25, 2021. In March 2022 this had increased to 336,759 applications – an increase of 65%.

Drivers with a notifiable medical condition account for 39% of more than 800,000 people in the UK waiting for a new driving licence. The research conducted by Heycar also suggests waits of up to six months for their licences.

The DVLA says it will reach ‘normal’ turnaround times by the end of May. Waiting up to three weeks is the benchmark wait. When it comes to clearing the backlog on medical licences, the target is for 90% of cases to be processed within 90 days by the end of September.


Heycar’s consumer editor Sarah Tooze says the delays are a major inconvenience to vulnerable people,. She states that “many are too scared to take the risk” of driving while they wait. This is despite many are permitted to do so.  as they are unclear on the DVLA guidelines.

The delays are a real “source of anxiety for drivers with medical conditions”. The not knowing what is happening with their application and lack of communication. “Not hearing from the DVLA or being able to speak to anyone for months on end is unacceptable.” This is despite applicants understanding the issues the pandemic has caused to services.

The DVSA blames the Department of Health and Social Care. It seems they requested a pause referring cases in December 2021, and January 2022. This is to allow the NHS to focus on the vaccine booster programme.

Furthermore, DVSA says it is still seeing the impact of industrial action by the PCS union in 2021. This included the month-long targeting of the drivers’ medical department. They say it has led to significant backlogs of paper applications in that area.

“We are working hard to process your medical related application,” states the DVSA’s standard response to applicants.  “We aim to be back to normal processing times by September 2022.”