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