Doctors told to report gun wounds to police

Doctors were told yesterday they must report to police incidents involving gunshot wounds, to protect the public.

New guidance from the General Medical Council (GMC), which weakens the doctor's duty of confidentiality to patients, comes after a spate of incidents which left nine people dead or injured last week.

Jon Otsemobor, 20, a Liverpool footballer, was among three people shot in a bar in Liverpool in the early hours of Sunday morning. Andre Shepherd, a DJ, was hit in the arms and back in a shooting in Reading on Friday. The same day David King, who was known to police, was gunned down with an automatic weapon in the quiet market town of Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire. On Tuesday, Marian Bates, a 64-year-old jeweller, was shot dead by a robber during a raid on her shop in Arnold, Nottingham.

The outbreak of gun crime led to calls for urgent action. The GMC came under pressure from the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) more than a year ago after police were outraged when a surgeon removed a bullet from a patient and gave it to him as a memento. The patient then sought revenge on his assailant.

Jane O'Brien, head of standards at the GMC, said: "Acpo were concerned about one or two incidents where they hadn't been told of gunshot victims in hospital. We had a bit of a dialogue about how far we wanted to go. Clearly we did not want to discourage people in need from coming forward for treatment. But there was also an issue about the need to protect the public interest. The question was how to balance those things."

Existing guidance from the GMC, which sets ethical standards, says confidentiality is central to the trust between doctors and patients, and that it may only be breached, in the public interest "where the benefits to an individual or to society of the disclosure outweigh the public and the patient's interest in keeping the information confidential".

Under the new guidance doctors must inform the police when a patient seeks treatment for a gunshot wound. The GMC said this would trigger a visit from the police who would discuss with the doctor the circumstances of the injury.

Consent should be sought by the doctor to disclose the patient's identity, but if it is refused it may be revealed, and the patient's trust breached, if the doctor judges that it would "help prevent, detect or prosecute a serious crime".

Ms O'Brien said it was important that doctors protected the confidentiality of patients in cases where, for example, there had been a failed suicide attempt and no crime had been committed or other people put at risk.

"Acpo would have liked us to have said doctors should immediately disclose everything they know. But we were also concerned to protect patient confidentiality and for doctors not to become a supplementary police force. We think the balance will be accepted."

John Heyworth, president of the British Association of Accident and Emergency Medicine, said: "Patients presenting to emergency departments with gunshot wounds require the highest standards of clinical care and this will remain the absolute priority. However, we also have a responsibility to protect the public in the community."

Alan Green, Deputy Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, said: "This guidance ... will not only assist in the detection of [gun offences] but may assist in the prevention of further offences."

Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

    £16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

    £9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

    Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

    £15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn