My Department is remaining in close contact with the RSA who are examining ways of increasing the number of tests within the current health constraints. I am pleased to say that my Department has already given approval to the RSA to retain 18 driver testers on temporary contracts due to expire in October and November, and to rehire up to 19 testers whose contracts expired in May. However, I would like to stress that many of the issues impacting on the delivery of service are concerned with the throughput of centres themselves in light of the restrictions, rather than on the availability of staff.
The RSA are also taking a number of other measures, including increasing the number of tests a driver tester can perform each day from five to six and scheduling additional overtime tests, including testing on Saturdays to increase capacity.
It is my understanding that those who had appointments cancelled due to Covid 19 are being prioritised in the first instance. Priority then will be given in order of application date. While there is some capacity for urgent test slots, the Road Safety Authority (RSA)'s capacity to make these available in all cases will be limited. Therefore, initially those who are frontline healthcare workers will be deemed eligible for an urgent test slot. This approach for prioritising customers will be kept under review as the RSA moves through the service resumption.
Specific details on the number of persons awaiting a driver test per test centre and age are held by the Road Safety Authority. I have therefore referred this part of the question to the Authority for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response has not been received within ten days
A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 51