Conscientious Objection

We have previously advised that it might be open to GPs to refuse to engage in the firearms certification process, on grounds of conscientious objection, on the basis of religious or ethical beliefs. We reiterate this advice.

Legal opinion is that a GP who refuses to engage on these grounds, should have due regard to the GMC guidance, notwithstanding that this guidance is primarily written for the purposes of referral for procedures, treatments and interventions rather than the compilation of a medical report.

GMC guidance does require GPs to take reasonable steps to notify their patients of their conscientious objection in advance, and we would advise doctors who hold such beliefs to ensure a clear statement to this effect is placed on their website and on notices in public areas of the practice.

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.