On 15th November the British Medical Association (BMA) updated its guidance being provided to GPs. The originally guidance suggested that it would be acceptable for GPs to refuse to process renewals for firearms certificates on the basis it was not part of a GPs statutory obligations.
A Summary of What's Changed
Following discussions with the Police forces from the UK, the Police have agreed to make small amendments to the paperwork GPs are required to complete and in return the BMA has revised its guidance.
The tone of the guidance has changed and now the BMA is stating that it is within the professional interest of GPs to engage in the process. Those GPs who feel sufficiently strongly about the matter are still able to be conscientious objectors but are now advised by the BMA that it is their obligation to put the person in question in contact with another GP who is prepared to complete the paperwork.
This is a significant and positive step for all those using firearms across the UK. The matter of payment in return for this service is still a matter of contention but now this significant barrier has been overcome, this should make the process simpler for those experiencing difficulties from their GPs.
Next Steps in Scotland
In light of the recently updated BMA guidance, Scottish Target Shooting have been advised, through its special relationship with Police Scotland, that Police Scotland are in the process of sending out letters to all applicants who have been affected by their GP failing to engage with the process. This letter will contain a link to the updated BMA guidance and will advise the applicant to contact their GP again to request that the GP Response Form now be completed in respect of their application to possess a firearm. Police Scotland will also be following this up with a letter to all known GP surgeries who have not previously engaged with them, to ask for their support now in expediting the process.
Summary of the Updated Guidance
A summary of the BMA guidance, updated on 15th November, can be found below and the full guidance can be downloaded at the bottom:
GPs must engage in the process of firearms licensing when requested to do so. Failure to do so could place them at professional risk. In terms of their contractual obligations, GPs must cooperate with and facilitate statutory functions relating to the process.
The contract also sets out that a reasonable fee may be demanded for the services provided as part of that process. The demand for a reasonable fee may form a condition, which if not fulfilled, means the GP can refuse to engage further in the firearms certification process.
A GP may have a genuine conscientious objection, in which case and subject to GMC guidance they should refer the patient appropriately.
Source: BMA website
Read the Full Guidance
The full guidance can be found on the BMA website available at: https://www.bma.org.uk/advice/employment/ethics/ethics-a-to-z/firearms
A copy to download and keep has also been provided below: