THE number of driving examiners taking time off with stress has more than doubled in Scotland over the last four years, leading for calls to improve their working conditions.

The figures released under a Freedom of Information laws also revealed that examiners in Scotland took more sick days due to stress than those in London last year.

Since 2013, the overall number of examiners taking leave due to stress has increased across the UK, with the exception of one area.

According to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), an executive agency of the UK Department for Transport which released the statistics, 377 examiners have taken days off due to stress across the UK since 2013. A total of 26 did not return to work following their absence.

The figures show 10 examiners in Scotland went off with stress in 2013 while in 2017 the number was 22.

However, in 2016 the number taking sick leave was up to 30, following a similar trend across the rest of the UK.

London had 17 examiners signed off in 2017, five fewer than Scotland despite having a population about 3.5 million larger. The previous year, 39 took sick days in London, while in 2013 the level was 16.

The south of England has also seen a significant rise in the same four-year period, from 15 to 24.

The only area to buck the trend was central England, which seen the number of examiners going off with stress drop from 13 to 12 in the 2013-2017 period. However, in 2016 the number spiked at 31.

Neil Greig, director of policy and research at road safety charity IAMRoadSmart, has said that the rising stress levels of examiners is an issue.

He said: “We are concerned that driving examiners in Scotland appear to be suffering from high levels of stress compared with other areas of the country and we would urge employers and staff to work together to improve the working environment for examiners.

“With a fail rate of around 50 per cent the test is clearly still a stressful experience for all concerned and learners could help a lot by arriving for the test better prepared.”

The union which represents driving examiners has hit out at the figures and says it is concerned over workloads.

A Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union spokesperson said: “These figures for stress-related sick leave for driving examiners are very worrying.

“PCS has been raising concerns over workloads and working practices for many years.

“Recently members were involved in two days of strike action against the DVSA over the issue of working time.

“This dispute still continues and it’s about time the DVSA and ministers in the Department for Transport took this issue seriously.”

DVSA’s director of people, communications and engagement, Adrian Long, said: “We want to make DVSA a great place to work. We will help staff to recognise and prevent workplace stress and help them to manage it by early recognition and appropriate intervention.

“Our wellbeing plan includes a focus on mental health. This year we have increased the support available as we introduce mental health first aiders across DVSA and support greater access to our employee assistance programme.”