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Part of Ministerial Statements – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 11:00 am on 5th May 2020.

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Photo of Nichola Mallon Nichola Mallon Social Democratic and Labour Party 11:00 am, 5th May 2020

I recognise that this crisis has thrown up a number of difficulties and I think that that is inevitable when you are running a service that is interacting with thousands and thousands of people weekly, which DVA does across its range of services.

In terms of licensing issues, if we take the example of taxi drivers, there was an issue around PSV extensions. We have addressed that through a free-of-charge six-month extension. There was an issue for taxi drivers of access to online training. As a result of this crisis, we have increased the number of online courses. There is an issue around GP medical forms, which are required by some drivers for their licences, and we are working with the BMA to address that. The one particular issue that we have not completely resolved yet is about those drivers who require a further specialised medical assessment. That situation has arisen because all of our medics are focused on COVID-19, but I hope to be in a position very soon to present a solution to Members and those drivers.

The situation has brought home to me that we should have been in a much more advanced stage in DVA in terms of automated services. I hope that the Member recognises that we are trying to address one aspect of that from 11 May, but I am very mindful that we need to extend that across other services where it is not applicable at the moment.