Medcert is a private medical service for those who want to avoid any worry and delays caused by the current administrative system and in obtaining a medical check from their GP.
Lin Oxley spoke with Daryn Hufton-Rees Director of Medcert to help clear up some of the confusion surrounding medical certificates for firearms licensing.
This is what Daryn had to say:
There is an awful lot of confusion about the medical requirements for licensing now. There are a 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.
Sadly, these tales can often provide misleading lessons for those looking to preserve their own licences and have 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 the 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 several surgeries that 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 is ‘Which conditions will stop an applicant from 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 uses 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 tick the relevant boxes on their licence application in all good faith. We have, however, come across several very serious health issues that wee 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 from 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 few 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 does 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 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, these will lessen by the very nature of the cycle of licensing. Some of the early FLU adopters of the proforma are well over halfway through the five-year cycle and even the latest are approaching their first anniversary.
Find out more at https://www.medcert.co.uk
Discounts are available for GTA members.