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Independents' Day

GPs to monitor mental health of all patients who own guns

GPs are required from this month to keep a record of all patients who own a gun – and to inform police if any of these people develop mental health problems such as depression.

Practices are to place a ‘firearm reminder’ code in their records to act as an alert if the health of gun owners deteriorates.

Police will contact the GPs of all people who apply for a firearm certificate, to check whether there is a history of illnesses including depression or dementia.

Until now police have only contacted an individual’s GP before the issue of a firearm certificate if an applicant has declared a relevant medical condition.

The new referral system was drawn up by a partnership that included the police, the RCGP, the BMA and shooting associations. Guidance for GPs is being prepared, but police will have the final say on who is issued a firearm’s certificate.

Police watchdog Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary previously recommended that GPs should provide medical reports for patients applying for firearm licences.

GPC member Dr John Canning said: ’We support measures to ensure closer working between the medical profession and police. Under current legislation doctors already have a responsibility to breach confidentiality if they think a patient presents a risk of serious harm to themselves or others.

’A system whereby patients’ medical records are noted as to indicate whether they hold a firearms or shotgun licence could act as a useful reminder to doctors that the patient has, or may have, access to a firearm.

’Doctors are never in a position to make assessments of future risks presented by firearms holders. The routine assessment of risk in relation to individuals who hold, or who wish to hold firearms is solely a matter for the police.’

Readers' comments (45)

  • Who has the power to force GPs to do this? There is nothing in GMS or PMS contracts regarding this.

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  • Seems self-evident that anybody who wants to own a gun should be prevented from doing so

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  • More to the point will GPs be legally indemnified?

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  • Can someone perhaps define "monitor mental health" as a starting point?

    Until they do, I am with the get knotted crowd. Joe Public get more than enough for £136 per patient per year.

    Sky emailed me today to say my subs will go up in June by £51 per year. Would that we had even half that extra per year. As it is we have the worst of all models; the responsibilities of the private sector with the funding of a monopoly public sector contract and as much opprobrium as you can handle.

    Makes me want to buy a gun, funnily enough.

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  • we need to say yes to everything - must never say no

    why bother with a contract ?

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  • not sure why they are saying that we need to collect it from now.

    also I am a little concerned that we should inform police if someone with a gun develops depression.

    I think thas we should risk assess this as we do in normality in asking about suicidal or homicidal tendencies.

    It may create a barrier to seeking help for gun owners which in my view is even more damaging to the patient.

    - anonymous salaried!

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  • If anyone else in a government funded service that wants us to help out doing their job for no extra pay, preferably shifting responsibility for tricky decisions that can somehow be labled 'medical' or 'behavioural' or 'to do with people' then we'll of cause be ready with the KY gel.
    Glad to be of service.
    Who's next?

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  • If they want this to be done, where is the payment?????? Again slavery if they force gps to do this with no additional payment.
    Will this also affect indemnity in some way? Anyway this is looked at it will cost gps money. Gps will be funding this work out of their own pockets.
    But why should the government pay for their own decisions?????

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  • So what incentive is there now for gun owners to get help from their gps if they are going to be banned from owning a gun as a result?
    Gun owners are people too who get ill and need help. They have to jump through hoops to get their fire arms licence and have to have a whiter than white record before they are given a firearms licence.
    Target shooting is a popular international sport dicipline.
    They may also start hiding things from their gps if they think gps are now spying on them.
    If this is done then gps may be told to keep tabs on other people, parents and if they abuse children then other groups and before long people will have lost any and all confidence in their gps and will view them as government agents who are looking to trip them up.
    Then if there is a problem then it is more likely to fester and result in more problems than there would have been if the issue was dealt with properly at the beginning.

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  • Madman doesn't recognise or report he is mentally ill.Gets a gun.His GP signs him off in good faith that he has no history of mental illness.The madman shoots someone.The victim/victim's family sues the GP.

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