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Independents' Day

GPs to record details of criminals’ alcohol consumption under new proposals

GPs will be required to log the details of offenders convicted of criminal offences linked to alcohol consumption under plans being put before the Scottish Parliament.

Under the proposed bill the courts should notify GP practices of an offender’s name, offence and sentence when the ‘consumption of alcohol was a contributory factor in the commission of the offence’.

It is intended to enable GPs to help the offender kick their alcohol problem.

However, it has been criticised by the BMA, who say that the extra admin would be burdensome for practices, and there is also a risk that the records will be seen by prospective employers and insurers, which could work against offenders.

Labour MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife Dr Richard Simpson, a practising GP before being elected, introduced the private members bill in April.

But the BMA’s evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s health and sport committee this week says it does not think that placing an obligation on the courts to notify GPs ’will make it more likely for the offender to receive appropriate treatment for their alcohol dependency’.

It adds: ’If a patient is not willing to address their behaviour, the chances of addressing it because the GP raises it are only slight. The BMA has significant concerns about this section of the Bill and would urge the committee to consider removing it in its entirety.

’It is our view that medical records should only contain information relevant to the clinical care and treatment of a patient. As medical records become more accessible to various agencies, for example insurance companies and employers, having information on legal convictions visible, after limits of disclosure have lapsed is unlikely to benefit those individual patients.’

A spokesperson for the Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs organisation said that ’many individuals do not wish their GP to be notified’.

They added: ’This is often through fear, when children are involved. The GP may disclose this to social workers, employers. This proposal may lead to increased anxiety and stigma for family members with no apparent benefit for individuals or their families.”

Please note: This article was amended at 10:57 to make clear that these proposals are a private members bill and do not represent Scottish Government policy.


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Readers' comments (7)

  • Alcohol misuse is a social problem not a medical one hence the MH acts exclude it. Why is it a GPs responsibility

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  • I would have thought receiving a conviction and sentence for an alcohol related crime is a somewhat more powerful message than Dr Jones saying "oh, by the way, old chap, you should cut down on the old vino, you know".

    If getting a criminal conviction doesn't encourage someone to seek help for alcohol, why on earth is GP advice going to make a difference?

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  • Not part of GMS contract. Next,

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  • TBH. i see a lot of crims and record alcohol and drug use routinely and offer help if problematic as i would with anyone else.

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  • That will be £20/px please.

    Good morning Mr Hunt - now I see you're guilty of crimes against democracy and the NHS, can you tell me about your use of substances....

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  • How does this benefit the patient and who is paying for it?

    Another idiotic 'GP ideally placed to....' idea from politicians that simply don't have a clue.

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  • How will this work if a patient denies drinking. We could take blood with the patient's consent but even then it may be negative. What if the patient refuses consent?. I am surprised that an ex Gp put this forward. You cannot force someone to give up alcohol.

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