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GPC to seek change to firearms licensing procedure following GP outrage


Anybody who requires a gun license in order to do their job should have their suitability for this assessed by an occupational health physician, as it is an occupational requirement; any request for an assessment for a gun license for occupational purposes should be paid for by the employer (or by the individual, as a business expense, if self-employed). I still, however, view part b) of the motion passed yesterday to have been ill-considered. Sharing a patient's full health record - even with consent - may breach DPA and confidentiality rules if information shared is not objectively needed by the party with whom it is shared. The onus should be on the patient to share information about their medical history with the doctor assessing them. With criminal sanctions for anybody who obtains - or retains - a firearms license by witholding medical information. And, as with DVLA, the onus should be on patients to report their illnesses to whoever controls their license. Any risk that information might be shared, against the wishes (if not contrary to their consent) of the patient would risk them not sharing that information with their GP, and thereby risks a patient failing to disclose signes or symptoms that would lead to a diagnosis and successful treatment, thereby harming the patient, as a result of compromising the GP-patient relationship. Thus for ethical reasons (possibly supported by the DPA and confidentiality rules) GPs should NOT, IMO, share patient's medical records with the physician doing an assessment for a firearms certificate. IF there is an agreement that data must be shared (and I reiterate, I would oppose agreeing to this) there must first be objective, evidence-based criteria for deciding what information needs to be passed on. Given that looking after sick patients and preventing illness must take a priority over non-NHS discretional matters such as firearms licensing, we need to find a way to keep the workload to a minimum, and must ensure that any such information-sharing requires only an automated search of the patient record, looking for Read codes for the necessary information; with no manual trawling of the records. Alternatively, patients should be asked to request a copy of their records from the GP and share them with the licensing authorities. This gives the patients the responsibility for deciding whether they are willing to share the information. If they choose not to, they can withdraw their license application (or risk prosecution for witholding information). If GPs are expected to maintain a register of gun-owners and report any illnesses that give concerns (and as I've said, I think patients should be made responsible for reminding their GP that they have a license, and for reporting such concerns, analogous to the DVLA requirements) then there must be an annual retainer fee for doing so, for as long as the patient holds the license. Furthermore... The GMC rules on conscientious objection relate to those situation where a doctor has an objection to a medical procedure (such as termination of pregnancy). They only relate to occasions when a practitioner does not wish to refer a patient for a particular medical procedures. They do not relate to other things patients may request, so they should not relate to this. I do not believe there is a GMC duty to refer a patient on to another doctor in this instance. I also stand by previous comments that a doctor (or a practice) should be able to inform the local Chief Constable that they will not be undertaking any firearms assessments, will not be replying to any requests to do so, and that not receiving a reply does not mean there are no concerns, just that the CC will have to find another way to get that individual assessed.

Posted date

18 Nov 2016

Posted time