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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)

  • April 1st?

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  • How can the BMA agree to this - in effect GPs are being set up to fall.

    Where is the payment for this?? The police get paid to grant the license, but we as always have to do the monitoring with no payment at all?

    Even with money - it should have been left to the police tondo regular checks - they can wash their hands off it now.

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  • Needs to be funded

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  • That's pretty well all the patients then!

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  • Further bullshit imposed on primary care.

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  • Nope not my job.

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  • Not a chance without payment

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  • Not an NHS service therefore up front with the sausages or foxtrot oscar.

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  • This comment has been removed by the moderator.

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  • Aren't BMA and RCGP meant to be on our side? Why are they always so happy to help making my working day just a bit longer?

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