Work­ers foot bill for gun li­cence af­ter GPs opt out

Those seek­ing firearms cer­tifi­cate are pay­ing for pri­vate med­i­cal checks as doc­tors refuse due to ‘eth­i­cal ten­sion’

The Courier & Advertiser (Fife Edition) - - NEWS - Tim bu­gler

Game­keep­ers, deer stalk­ers, foresters and farm­ers in a High­land Perthshire vil­lage who need gun li­cences for their work are be­ing forced to go pri­vate for the legally-re­quired med­i­cal checks.

Killin Med­i­cal Prac­tice, whose catch­ment area in­cludes the Ben Law­ers area and banks of Loch Tay, has opted not to pro­vide med­i­cal back­ground re­ports as part of the Shot­gun Cer­tifi­cate Ap­pli­ca­tion process.

The change fol­lows the re­tire­ment last year of Dr David Syme, who had served the com­mu­nity for 34 years.

The two women doc­tors who re­main part­ners in the prac­tice de­cided to axe gun li­cence vouch­ing, say­ing they were caught in an “eth­i­cal ten­sion” over the is­sue.

In a joint state­ment, Dr Tara Mill and Dr El­iz­a­beth Wat­son said: “We’re sorry that pa­tients are un­happy at our cur­rent re­fusal to par­tic­i­pate in the Shot­gun Cer­tifi­cate Ap­pli­ca­tion process. This could be seen as an ob­struc­tion to our doc­tor/pa­tient re­la­tion­ship and be per­ceived as a lack of care.

“It’s our com­mit­ment to pro­vide best care and ac­cess for ser­vices. How­ever, we’re caught in an eth­i­cal ten­sion in our re­quire­ment to play our part in pub­lic safety and a want to pro­vide com­plete ser­vices to all our pa­tients but with an in­for­ma­tion re­quest that lacks rigour.

“Cur­rently we feel that part of the sys­tem lacks ro­bust­ness.

“We are asked to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion on ‘any phys­i­cal con­di­tions and men­tal health con­di­tions’, as well as per­son­al­ity dis­or­der in the pre­vi­ous five years.

“Per­son­al­ity dis­or­der is a con­tro­ver­sial di­ag­no­sis and ‘any phys­i­cal and med­i­cal con­di­tion’ is clearly am­bigu­ous and open to spec­u­la­tive opin­ion.

“The BMA has sup­ported doc­tors’ pro­fes­sional po­si­tion in this spe­cific mat­ter. Po­lice Scot­land’s stance pre­vents us from fully com­plet­ing the form and will not ac­cept it with the omis­sion of com­ments on the above points.”

The doc­tors’ re­fusal to par­tic­i­pate in shot­gun vouch­ing means coun­try­side work­ers are hav­ing to pay to ob­tain their med­i­cal records and get ap­proval from pri­vate doc­tors.

The sys­tem re­quires po­lice to as­sess ap­pli­cants for firearms li­cences. In all cases they will ask the ap­pli­cant’s GP to pro­vide a fac­tual re­port based on the ap­pli­cant’s med­i­cal his­tory.

How­ever, the Bri­tish Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion has ad­vised doc­tors they may refuse to pro­vide re­ports as it seeks an opin­ion on mat­ters fall­ing out­side of their med­i­cal ex­per­tise, namely as­sess­ment of be­havioural and per­son­al­ity disor­ders.

Pic­ture: Getty.

Game­keep­ers and deer­stalk­ers are hav­ing to pay to ob­tain their med­i­cal records and get ap­proval from pri­vate doc­tors.

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