Fees for responding to the Police letter regarding firearms
Following the introduction of the new firearms licensing process GPs have already raised considerable concerns to us over the process and whether or not they can charge a fee for responding to the letter from the Police, indicating whether they have any concerns and have placed a code on the patient’s medical record.
In our discussions with the Home Office, Police and shooting representatives we have faced continual challenges that have been particularly difficult to resolve, however we have made it clear throughout that this work is not part of a GP’s contract and therefore GPs are able to charge a fee. Our original proposal to improve the process was rejected by ministers and so we are having to deal with what has now been implemented, which although has its own problems, is far better than the existing process. Our initial guidance was cautious in our advice in order to gain feedback from members and allow the new process to unfold. However, there has been a clear message from our members that there are concerns and we have now raised these with the Home Office and Scottish Government. We will continue to seek further resolutions to the process.
BMA revised guidance on fees
The response to the Police’s letter indicating whether there are any concerns and that a code on the patient’s medical record as been added is not part of a GP’s contract. It is therefore up to the GP to assess how best to proceed taking on board the following factors and guidance:
- The work involved in responding to the letter is minimal and therefore can be undertaken easily without delay and without a fee.
- The work involved in responding to the letter requires time and resources from the practice that necessitate a fee to be charged to the patient (the Police should not be charged). We would advise GPs to seek confirmation from the patient that they are in agreement to pay a fee before undertaking the work so not to cause additional confusion or delay. If there is a delay owing to this and you are unable to respond to the letter within the 21 days, please notify the police of this.
- No one in the practice is available (e.g. on holiday or off sick) to complete the work within 21 days. Please notify the police without delay.
- The practice does not have the capacity to undertake the work within the 21 days. Please notify the police without delay.
- That the GP has a conscientious objection to gun ownership and no other GP in the practice is available or able to undertake the work. Please notify the police without delay.