A PEEBLES resident has had a pot-shot at one of the town's practices over the cost of a medical certificate.

Hugh Hynd has said he can't afford the £200 charge for the document, which is required in order to renew his firearms licence, which expires next month.

The 62-year-old went to the Tweed Practice at Hay Lodge Health Centre earlier this summer, but was told he would have to pay the fee to obtain the certificate.

In March last year, the Chief Medical Officer set out a new process for information sharing between GPs and the Police in the granting and renewal of firearms and shotgun certificates.

The changes mean that GPs have to carry out an initial review of the patients current and last five years medical history, and mark in their notes if a patient has a shotgun certificate. If so, they are required to inform the Police if the patient is diagnosed with certain medical conditions during the period of the licence.

Hugh told the Peeblesshire News: "While I have no issue at all with the need for checks, I was concerned to hear at my local practice that I would have to pay £200 for the medical document, a sum I simply can't afford.

"I've talked to friends across Peeblesshire, and one in Innerleithen told me that they are charging between £30-£40 for the certificate.

"I've held a gun license for 40 years, and it looks like I'll have to give up my guns when it expires on October 3 as I won't be able to pay this."

His concerns were raised with Tweedale MSP Christine Grahame (SNP), who pledged to look into the issue.

Christine said: "I have looked into this on behalf of the constituent, and raised concerns over the issuing of the certificate, plus the fact that a person's health can change over the course of five years.

"The practice have confirmed that they carry out spot checks every quarter. In relation to the charge, I'm afraid this is a matter for the practice which unfortunately I have no control over."

In a letter from Tweed Practice manager Deborah Adams to MSP Christine Grahame, it said: "A person's physical and mental health may change over the five year period of validity of the licence and the GPs felt this put considerable responsibility on them.

"After considerable discussion, the practice decided on a protocol which includes carrying out quarterly searches to identify all those patients with a firearms licence and checking their notes to ensure that any relevant changes in the patient's health have been notified to the Police.

"The CMO (Chief Medical Officer) letter does not define how GPs are expected to carry out their responsibilities, and other GP practices may not carry out as much work. The directive states that 'the ultimate aim is to protect public safety and ensure that medically unfit people do not have access to firearms.' The Tweed Practice believes that to fulfil its duties, it is essential to carry out this additional work.

"As this work is not covered by the NHS, the fees charged are at the discretion of the Practice's partners and we believe our fees are commensurate with the amount of work we carry out.

"While the BMA (British Medical Association) has issued guidance to doctors on how to manage the new process, they have not made any recommendations about fees."

The Peeblesshire News made several attempts to contact Tweed Practice but was not able to get through.