Are Doctors obliged to provide references required in the form MN1?

The request was successful.

Dear General Medical Council,

I produce a relevant part of the paragraph from the Guide MN1 (Registration as a British citizen– A guide about the registration of children under 18) (version December 2015).
"SECTION 5: REFEREES AND IDENTITY
The application must be endorsed by two referees and a recent passport size photograph. You must write the child’s name and date of birth on the back of the photograph and this should then be glued or pasted into the space provided on the application form.
One referee should be a professional who has engaged with the child in a professional capacity, such as a teacher, health visitor, social worker or minister of religion. The other referee must normally be the holder of a British citizen passport and either a professional person or over the age of 25.
Each referee should know the child personally and should be:
• not related to the child
• not related to the other referee
• not acting as a solicitor or agent in connection with this application
• not employed by the Home Office
We will not accept a referee who has been convicted of an imprisonable offence during the last 10 unless that conviction can be disregarded in line with the table shown on page 23 of this Guide."

I have read an FOI 283802 (Home Office reference 36223, dated 18 August 2015.) when in response to the FOI Home Office stated as follows:
Q7- "Why do they require two references in this type of application as most of these applicants are young children's/toddlers? "
Home Office response: "Referees are requested for all applications for British citizenship. The purpose of this is to establish the applicant’s identity. For a child, the guidance specifies that one of the referees should be a person who has engaged with the child in a professional capacity, such as a teacher, health visitor, social worker or minister of religion. This fulfils a child protection purpose in that it allows us to be satisfied that the child has had dealings with an official, and thus is likely to be known by the authorities."

In the light of the guidance of MN1 (including but not restricted to the one produced above), and the Home Office’s response reference 36223; my questions are as follows:

1. Are doctors under any obligation to provide such reference, if they were professionally engaged with the applicant for an amount of time that meets the requirement?
a. If yes, can I get a copy of the relevant documents that say so?
b. if no, why not?

2. Are doctors under any obligation to respond to such request-for-reference in writing, even if they could not provide such reference?
a. If yes, can I get a copy of the relevant documents that say so?
b. If no, why not?

3. Is doctor within his rights to refuse to give such reference unreasonably? (For example, a GP of 1½-year-old girl said that he could not provide such reference, as it is against the ‘policy of the practice’. On requesting a copy of the policy or his response in writing, he simply declined. Just to add, the GP was the first doctor of the applicant since her birth.)
a. Can a doctor say that because an applicant may get a reference from other professionals he is not obliged to give one?

4. What options does the applicant have if doctors unreasonably refuse to provide such reference? (Keeping in mind that 1½-year-old girl would not have many professionals, who were professionally engaged with her.)

5. Is there any guideline to the doctors with regard to deal with requests to provide references for MN1 application?
a. If yes, can I get a copy of the relevant documents that say so?
b. If no, why not?

6. Has Home Office provided any guidelines for doctors to deal with requests for references for MN1 applications?

Yours faithfully,
Amir Farooqui

FOI, General Medical Council

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Thank you

 

Information access team

General Medical Council

Email: [GMC request email]

Telephone: 0161 923 6365

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FOI, General Medical Council

Dear Mr Farooqui

Your information request – F16/8071/SW

Thank you for your email dated 7 April.

How we will consider your request 

We’re going to look at your request under the Freedom of Information Act
2000 (FOIA). The FOIA gives us 20 working days to respond but we’ll come
back to you as soon as we can.  

Who to contact  

Simon Willis will be handling your request. If you have any questions you
can call him on 0161 923 6310 or email him at [1][email address]. 

Yours sincerely 

Miss Sadie Jones

Information Assistant

[2][email address]

0161 250 6889

 

General Medical Council

3 Hardman Street

Manchester

M3 3AW

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Simon Willis (0161 923 6310), General Medical Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Farooqui,

Your information access request 

Thank you for your email of 7 April 2016 asking for information as to
whether doctors are obliged to provide identification reference for
patients in the Home Office Form MN1 “Application for registration of a
child under 18 as a British citizen”. I’ve considered your request under
the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

In response to your questions 1, 2, 3, and 5, the GMC has not issued
publication or guidance to say that a doctor must provide identification
reference for patients in the MN1 form.

Please note that the FOIA covers requests for recorded information that is
held by a public authority. Accordingly I am unable to respond to
questions 1b, 2b, 3a, and 5b because these are not requests for recorded
information. I am also unable to respond to question 4 because this is a
request for advice.

With regards to question 6, please consult the Home Office directly to
ascertain whether it has issued any guidance on the MN1 form; we do not
have this information.

Who to contact 

I hope you find this information useful. If you have any queries about
this, or need anything further, please contact me on the details below.

Yours sincerely

Simon Willis

Information Access Officer

Resources & Quality Assurance Directorate

Direct Dial: 0161 923 6310

Email: [1][email address]

 

 

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Dear Simon Willis (0161 923 6310),

Thank you for your response.

Yours sincerely,

Amir Farooqui

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