Digital firearms marker on GP patient records is positive step but not overnight solution, says BMA

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

Location: UK
Published: Wednesday 6 July 2022
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Responding to the launch of a digital marker used to identify firearms licence holders on GP records, Dr Peter Holden, BMA lead for firearms licensing policy and a GP in Matlock, Derbyshire, said:

“As advocates for their patients and communities, family doctors support the need for scrutiny and proper safeguards when it comes to owning a weapon that can be used with lethal outcomes.

“For decades now, the BMA has been pushing for an active flagging system within patients’ records that is robust, clear and standardised across the country, and the new digital marker is a positive step in the right direction of improving the contribution GPs make to the licensing process.

“However, the public should be under no illusion that this will be an overnight solution. This new scheme will apply only to new applicants or people renewing their licences, so it will take up to five years before all licensed gun owners are included within this framework.

“Of course, when there is a diagnosis of concern, GPs will continue to use all of the information in front of them and where there is a danger to the wider public or the patient themselves, they will alert authorities.

“The introduction of the marker though must not imply that the buck for public safety stops with the GP; as the police have acknowledged, they themselves are ultimately responsible for firearms licensing.

“But as this new marker is rolled out, we encourage GPs to build on existing relationships with local forces to help further protect public safety.”

Ends

Notes to editors

The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.