We have recently received an update from Dr Mark Sandord- Wood with the following on Firearms:
I need to update the you on the results of ongoing dialogue around firearms licensing. The last few weeks has seen quite a degree of movement from a number of important actors in the firearms world, and most now appear ready to engage constructively with us to achieve a unified national system for licensing that protects the public while keeping doctors safe.In particular, the Home Office (HO) have proven more receptive to the concerns we have expressed and Peter Holden (Chair of Professional Fees Committee) and I, along with key BMA staff, had a very productive meeting with Nick Hurd MP, the minister responsible for police matters.
We have also met with the Countryside Alliance in what proved to be a very fruitful exchange of perspectives. While there was some expected dissonance in our positions we found we had significantly more interests in common than those that divided us. All stakeholders accept the principle of doctors charging a reasonable fee for completing firearms medical reports.
We have also taken QC advice on the question of BMA guidance to the profession and have been assured that it complies with legal frameworks and ethical considerations, with two minor suggestions with the aim of improving our guidance. Firstly, it has been suggested that we should clarify that our reservations around flagging are practical and do not relate to an objection in principle. Secondly, we have reviewed the section on Conscientious Objection to clarify people’s obligations in this situation.
Our guidance on flagging is changing from:
While reminding doctors of their duty of care to the public to raise concerns where they are apparent, we do not recommend flagging notes in this manner, 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. We continue to work with the Home Office to resolve this pressing question
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
Our guidance on Conscientious Objection is changing from:
In our view conscientious objectors are not required to arrange for alternative provision of such a report (which may itself conflict with their ethical stance), although they may choose to do so
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.
Details of this has been added to our firearms page