Driving

Long post warning! Be careful what you agree to!

As mentioned elsewhere on here, I had a small stroke at the end of February; I was in hospital for 2 nights/3 days. Everyone was really really good.The physical and psychological effects for me were slight and physically recovered quickly, (psychological effects ongoing). I know I am very fortunate compared to how some suffer and I am very grateful that it wasn’t worse.

At discharge it was suggested that I could, if I wanted, go on a driving assessment, which I would have to pay for as it is organised through a charity, but there would probably be a waiting list Thinking this sounded like a good idea I agreed. I specifically asked the consultant how long I should refrain from driving and he said one month and this was shown on my discharge letter. When I got home I phoned the next day to arrange the assessment, about an 8 week wait, and I booked in (at a cost to me of £60).

Imagine my surprise then when I was seen at home by a physiotherapist and informed that I shouldn’t drive until I’d had the driving assessment. I queried this with them and was told that I could be seen by an occupational therapist (OT) who could do a cognitive check and report back to my GP and/or the Consultant who could then say if it was alright for me to drive after one month.

I was seen the next week by the OT on the Monday (easily passed the cognitive test) and I arranged for a telephone appointment at my GP’s. Obviously I had to explain it all again to the receptionist and GP. The outcome from that was a confused response as the GP didn’t seem to understand and didn’t seem to want to take responsibility and I’ m sure she said that DVLA advice was not to drive for 6 months after a stroke.
I went on the DVLA site and found that wasn’t the case and essentially if it’s only one TIA and you’re OK after a month then it’s OK to drive.

I was eventually sent a copy of a letter from the OT to my GP asking the GP to discuss driving with me, which had already happened, and was noncommittal as mentioned, (probably because I hadn’t had a face to face appointment).

I had the driving assessment yesterday (East Anglian Driveability). The lady and chap were very nice; again I explained what had happened and they were surprised when I told them I had been driving and only stopped driving for the month after the stroke as advised in writing by the consultant on my discharge letter. I went through the assessment - more cognitive testing and then a 40 minute driving assessment. Again all OK and I will get a letter/report on the ‘results’; they emphasise it is not a test, but an assessment. I think a copy goes to my GP. They do not advise DVLA where someone is clearly fit to drive.

In hindsight I just wish I hadn’t agreed to have the assessment when I had been lead to believe it was optional. So be careful what you agree to!

@DerekF I was similarly confused about returning to driving. I was being told 1 month by OT / physio in hospital only for my discharge letter to say 3 months. When queried I was told it was because my vision had been affected. That was ok and I could understand that. No one was able to tell me how I went about getting clearance to drive again though. First I was told OT then I was told it would be ophthalmology, discharge letter said DVLA. In the end I notified the DVLA as I was required to do as couldn’t drive for 3 months. They then sent me for a DVLA sight test and to my GP for a medical examination. Yours would be different as you only had to refrain for 1 month. The only thing I can deduce is that there doesn’t seem to be a clearly defined process for people to follow after having a stroke.
Hope your situation is resolved soon.

1 Like

We too are confused, the hospital told us my husband could drive after one calender month however the OT has told us today that he cant until he passes her cognative tests. These consist of him telling her his favourite holiday and most memorable on holiday followed by completing some very easy sums and a list of items he saw…please tell me what this has to do with driving ???
He’s been told he can go back to work next week on a building site (part time) but cant drive? So confusing !!

@lindashelton I’m not 100% sure but I think it’s about being able to concentrate on things & notice what’s going on around you. I’m not sure how what they’ve asked him to do would prove this to any great degree. I do wonder whether it is partly a box ticking exercise.

1 Like

It is confusing as Mrs5K mentions. I believe you have to take personal responsibility. My consultant put on the discharge form that I could drive after 1 month, so as far as I was concerned I had that in writing, anything else was only verbal from OT’s. If I was in the same position again I would ask the OT to put in writing what they believed I needed before I drove again and I would like to see their reaction. I’ve copied the DVLA leaflet below. I’m not sure that an OT has the authority, or the same authority as a Dr. I think they err on the side of caution and would rather tell you that you can’t drive rather than take responsibility and say you can. I went to a driving assessment that was about 40 minutes worth of cognitive testing and a 40 minute driving assessment and I got a report that confirmed I was OK to drive. To be fair the ‘assessors’ could see and judge that I was OK as soon as I went in. I would question though if some drivers who hadn’t suffered a Stroke or TIA would do quite as well. I’m not sure if we or anyone would be able to change the current confused state though, because it would need ‘professionals’ to make a reasonable judgement that some wouldn’t want to take responsibility for, as without some test or assessment it is relying on their personal opinion and that could be open to a legal challenge and in this day and age it’s a step too far for some

The leaflet on the DVLA site says this :

By law you must tell us if any of the following apply:

You have had more than one recent stroke or TIA

One month after the stroke you are still suffering from weakness of the arms or legs, visual disturbance, or problems with co-ordination, memory or understanding

You have had any kind of seizure, unless:
– it happened at the time of the stroke or TIA or within the following 24 hours and you have never had a seizure, stroke or TIA before

You needed brain surgery as part of the treatment for the stroke

A person providing your medical care has said he/she is concerned about your ability to drive safely

You hold a current Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) or Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) (Group 2) driving licence.

If you are not sure whether any of the above apply to you, discuss the matter with your doctor.

Disability of your arms or legs after a stroke may not prevent you from driving. You may be able to overcome driving difficulties by driving an automatic vehicle or one with a hand-operated accelerator and brake.

If there are any restrictions on the types of vehicle you can drive, these must be shown on your driving licence.

In the interest of road safety you must be sure that you can safely control a motor vehicle at all times.

How to tell us:
If your doctor or specialist tells you to report your condition to us, you will need to fill in the appropriate medical questionnaire.

Questionnaires are available to download at www.gov.uk/health-conditions-and-driving

Questionnaires are available to order by: Phone: 0300 790 6806

Write to: Drivers Medical Group DVLA, Swansea SA99 1TU

1 Like

Thank you, thats very helpful .