Nonsense and Bunkum

There is an awful lot of nonsense floating around about the medical requirements for licensing at the moment. There are any number of scary tales on forums and “my mate knows this chap” stories being told wherein the individual, through absolutely no fault of their own, has had their guns removed and their licence revoked. The vast majority are total bunkum at best these tales can often provide misleading lessons for those looking to preserve their own licences, and has given rise to a number of myths about medical verification reports.

The first myth to put to bed is that this process is new. The physical piece of paper, the proforma, is new and the timings are different, but the questions remain the same and the requirement for the individual to declare any relevant medical conditions is as important as ever. The main timing change is that whereas in previous years the individual would make application and the firearms licensing unit would then approach the GP for a confirmation of the information that the gun had placed on their application, this confirmation must now be submitted with the rest of the applicant’s paperwork.

As stated, this is nothing particularly new, and certainly not a system designed to remove guns from the individual or to specifically create income for the GPs. That said, a number of GPs have seen this as an opportunity to charge preposterous fees for the work done.

Completing a medical proforma falls into the category of private medicine, and because of this the individual surgery or GP may choose not to do the work, or to charge whatever fee they wish. Based on anecdotal evidence we estimate the average surgery fee to be £250, although the highest fee that we are aware of is £795 – more than the price of many new guns! I should however point out that there are still a number of surgeries who do this work efficiently and at a reasonable price.

The second myth revolves around revocations. Revocations are certainly taking place across the country, but contrary to many rumours the vast majority of these are due to the individuals themselves failing to report notifiable conditions on their original grants or subsequent renewals.

One of the most common questions we’re asked is ‘which conditions will stop an applicant being granted a licence?’. The short answer is: none. The medical proforma is an objective, opinion-free summary of an applicant’s medical history and firearms licensing use this as one of the many pieces of information they review when assessing an applicant’s suitability. Everyone goes through hard times in life and past episodes, or current conditions which are well managed, are not a barrier to being granted a licence. What is a barrier to being granted a licence, however, is being found to have omitted details of relevant medical conditions on previous application forms or during the term of the licence.

There are, of course, nuances to this – in all the many thousands of proformas we have done we are not aware that the police have revoked for minor discrepancies. On occasion, a patient may have been diagnosed with low mood and not been informed, had a note placed on their record as an aside or been prescribed a drug without knowing it is an antidepressant and therefore do not to tick the relevant boxes on their licence application in all good faith. We have, however, come across a number of very serious health issues which have been hidden from the FLUs, and I, for one, would hate to think that any of those individuals were standing on a peg next to me.

I cannot stress enough how much honesty is the best policy. Not only is it a requirement for all licence holders to be of good character, but trying to circumvent the system by omitting medical information or attempting to forge either your medical records or your proforma will result in serious consequences for both you and the shooting community as a whole. You might be surprised by how quickly forgery can be detected.

Most importantly, if you are suffering with a condition that needs treatment then you should never defer, avoid or cease treatment because you believe it will affect your licence. There are a number of wonderful organisations offering confidential support if you’re not sure where to turn – the Gamekeeper’s Welfare Trust, for example, has an excellent helpline.

The last point of confusion is around the appropriate point to request and submit a medical proforma. The requirement is that you submit your completed proforma along with the rest of your application paperwork, and that this should be at least eight weeks prior to your expiry date. As such, please be aware that you should start the process of getting the proforma approximately five months before the ticket runs out. This is to give you plenty of time to check to see if your surgery actually do the necessary medical checks, to check the cost of those checks and to find a third-party, such as MedCert, if your surgery cannot fulfil your request or charge too much. Some FLUs are changing their 16 week reminder letter to be 24 weeks or longer, to give applicants time to get their paperwork together.

Whilst the new timings of the medical proforma may be causing some issues, by the very nature of the cycle of licensing these will lessen. Some of the early FLU adopters of the proforma are well over halfway through the five-year cycle and even the latest adopters have passed their first anniversary.

MedCert

Daryn

MedCert Team

Postal strikes in December

Due to the ongoing postal strikes we will be sending copies of completed reports to clients via email rather than Royal Mail. If you require your paper copy before the new year then please contact us.