BBOLMC Letter to practices on GPs and firearms certificates

Date sent: Tuesday 10 May 2016

To All BBOLMC Practices

Issue date: 10.05.16

BBOLMC Letter to practices on GPs and firearms certificates

Some of you may already have received letters from Thames Valley Police, requesting details of any GP concerns after one of their patients has been issued with a firearms certificate

A new system has been introduced from 1st April  2016

Three actions are required of the registered GP:

1.      Respond to the questions on an attached form indicating whether the GP has any concerns about the person being issued with a firearms certificate.
(If the police receive no response within 21 days it will be assumed the GP has no concerns)

2.      GP to add a firearm read Code to the patient’s record

3.      GP to contact police if the person begins to suffer from a relevant medical condition (non exclusive list provided)

Within the BMA, negotiating this system was delegated to a non GPC committee, and the outcome has received considerable criticism from LMCs including BBOLMC See  where 5 options available to GPs are outlined

The new arrangements do not seem fit for purpose
The certification system is part of protection of the public, and I see no reason why all the process involved in checking an applicant should not be funded by that person.

My view is that the belief that the amount of information in the initial GP response does not justify a charge is wrong.
The NHS should not be subsidising non-NHS work, and the cost of GP input should be funded by a proportion of the application fee covering GP time and input 
The GP has to review the notes, looking through summary pages, many  years of consultations, A&E attendances & letters to check for the conditions & history listed.
Only once this work has been done can a box be ticked.
The supplied list of relevant medical conditions is not exclusive, so professional GP judgement is required.
This judgement carries medico-legal implications, so care must be taken even at the first response stage.
I recently wrote a letter of dissatisfaction to the TV Police, but they merely fell back on the description of the new system sent to them by the Home Office

GPs faced with a request might care to use the template letter given below (or your own version of it)

Dear TV Police 

Regarding your request for information following the issue of a Firearms certificate to my patient, I would like to make the following points 

1)      Irrespective of any agreement between the Home Office and the BMA regarding the GP role in this process, we are in no way bound by any such agreements.

2)      Making the judgement you request cannot be done without proper and full review of the patient's notes even if there turn out to be no concerns.

3)      We are under considerable pressure of NHS work and do not have the capacity to assess this case unfunded outside of our NHS commitments

4)      The future actions or medical conditions of the firearms certificate holder cannot be guessed at. 

5)      The status of our indemnity to contribute to decisions over a person's safety to carry firearms is not clear and replying to your letter currently exposes us to unquantifiable risk.

If you feel that you require a report on the medical condition of the patient in question, then you are welcome to request one. 
We would require a signed consent form from the patient and also an indication of the scope of information that you would like to have in any such report. 
The writing of such a report would attract a fee

For the avoidance of  doubt, this is a standard letter which has been attached and returned to you on receipt of your standard “Grant or Renewal of Firearms and/or Shotgun Licence” and does not indicate either the presence of absence of concerns about this patient

Dr Paul Roblin


Tel: 07799116597 or 01628 475727


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