Diabetic drivers ban to remain

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The Independent Online
THE Government yesterday disclosed that it had checked and doubled checked medical advice over a ban on diabetics driving lorries or buses, as it faced pleas to ease enforcement of the rules.

The transport minister, Baroness Hayman, speaking amid calls for a review of European Union rules which ban all insulin-dependent diabetics from driving such vehicles, pledged to investigate the regime in other EU states after concern that they were not implementing the measure as zealously as in Britain.

She told the House of Lords in a debate that the expert panel on diabetes was asked if those diabetics who had not suffered a hypoglycaemic attack - a collapse - could be categorised as not a road risk. But the panel's advice was that under modern treatment methods the risk of hypoglycaemia "are not eliminated and may even be increased rather than reduced".

She spoke of claims that insulin treatment could lead to hypoglycaemia , which in turn led to a loss of consciousness "without warning", and it was that which "poses the greatest risk on the road".

The minister said that faced with "clear and unequivocal" advice from the professionals, it was difficult to see how the Government could have rejected it.

She had no illusions about the strength of feeling among drivers who felt their own condition was under control and understood their concerns.

Lady Hayman said that in the past three months there had been 40 accidents involving collapse at the wheel by insulin- dependent diabetics. The risk of an insulin-dependent diabetic having a "hypo" attack was calculated at one in ten.

The advisory panel will meet at the end of April to consider representations from the British Diabetic Association and the Commons all-party group on diabetes on introducing an individual assessment programme for those affected by the rules.