A driving instructor who coughed up blood after twice catching coronavirus from pupils quit because too much pressure is being applied to clear a learner backlog.

Gary Small, 58, is demanding more government support for the industry after twice catching the deadly bug while working.

He left his job because he feels the risks are now just too high.

The close environment they operate in makes the profession hazardous, and he wants more done to help tackle the problem.

Mr Small, from Oakwood, Derbyshire, says the on-going situation has caused immense stress and pressure on all those involved.

“I caught Covid twice from pupils, on two separate occasions because, as you can appreciate, the environment is one of close contact and sometimes people don’t think they’ve got the virus and unfortunately I caught it twice," he told DerbyshireLive.

Driving instructor Gary Small quit the job he loves because he says the risks are too high
Driving instructor Gary Small quit the job he loves because he says the risks are too high

“On the second time it was quite scary, I was coughing up blood, so I thought at the end of the day my health is more important.

“The teaching environment was so unpredictable against what the government was saying, so I just decided to call it a day."

He says unfair pressure is being put on instructors to clear the backlog of learners and to prioritise those with theory tests that could expire.

“We need more support for instructors, but also for pupils especially," he added. "I think the pupils have been given a really bad deal over the past eighteen months.

“Some have obviously had to wait for their driving tests, while others have had their theory tests run out and they’ve had to resit them.

“I’ve had a lot of students have their tests cancelled, they were distraught. They thought there would be an extension on the theory tests because it wasn’t their own fault.

Pressure is being applied because theory test certificates are expiring, he claims
Pressure is being applied because theory test certificates are expiring, he claims

“You can really see that there are many students who are affected mentally by this, but also in their lives professionally.

“There are jobs that need people to drive to in order to get to places further afield but that’s been taken away from them.”

He went on: "All the people that had their tests cancelled or postponed over lockdown, and add that to the fact that some driving instructors have given up, more have given up than started.

"There's a demand for tests, but no instructors available to teach them because their availability is limited because of the backlog.

"People are booking their tests, but there's no instructors around to bring them up to standard to pass."

A spokesperson from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Authority said that there are tests currently available to be booked in the local Derbyshire area, despite an national average wait time of 18 weeks.

DVSA Chief Executive, Loveday Ryder, said: “We are doing all we can to provide as many tests as possible so we can get our services back to normal.

“I know learners will be keen to take their test now, but it is important that candidates are properly prepared and don’t rush to take it.

“With more than half of candidates failing, and demand currently extremely high for tests, learners should only take their test only when they are confident they can pass.

"This will help them to avoid a lengthy wait for a retest and help us by not adding to the backlog of tests.“