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Updated Firearms Guidance

The BMA met recently with both the Home Office and the Countryside Alliance and progress is being made with all interested parties working towards achieving a unified national system for licensing that protects the public while keeping doctors safe. While this work is ongoing the BMA have updated their guidance for GPs in two areas, conscientious objection and flagging records. The full guidance can be seen here and the updated paragraphs are as follows:

In our view conscientious objectors are not required to arrange for alternative provision of such a report. Where access to a firearm is a professional requirement – such as for gamekeepers and farmers – we would nonetheless encourage doctors to assist applicants in identifying a suitable colleague willing to engage in the firearms certification process.

Many letters from firearms licensing officers to GPs request the doctor to place a flag in the patient record to identify the subject as the holder of a firearms license. While the BMA supports the principle of flagging in this way and reminds doctors of their duty of care to the public to raise concerns where they are apparent, we must also make doctors aware that due to the imprecise nature of flags, the lack of clear protocols for their appropriate removal and the absence of reliable software to facilitate the surveillance and cross-referencing of flags with diagnoses of concern, that we continue to have concerns about the flagging process and will continue to work with the Home Office to resolve this pressing question.

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