The BMA has raised concerns that airlines, including EasyJet, are asking travelers to bring a GP letter explaining medication in their hand luggage.
GP leaders said they would ‘raise this issue’ with the airlines in question and advised practices to direct patients to their medical records on the NHS app or charge patients for the information.
In his latest newsletterThe BMA’s General Practitioners’ Committee said: ‘It has come to our attention that some airlines are advising travelers bringing medicines in their hand luggage to bring a letter from their doctor confirming the type of medicine and what it serves.
“We will raise this issue with the airline, but in the meantime we remind practices that patients can print their medical records from the NHS app, or alternatively, practices can charge for travel-related inquiries .”
The GPC bulletin linked to advice on the EasyJet websitewhich advises travelers to bring any medication in their hand luggage, along with a ‘letter’ from their ‘doctor’.
He added: “Please bring a letter from your doctor confirming the type of medicine and what it is for.”
When asked for clarification by Pulse, an EasyJet spokesperson confirmed that the advice only applied to prescribed medication.
They added that travelers bringing prescribed medication must bring a medical certificate or a copy of their prescription and they must also present a medical certificate to airport security if liquid or gel medication exceeds 100ml. .
They said this requirement is in line with government guidelines and is also the case for other airlines.
However, it remains unclear whether the airline will update its published travel advice with these clarifications – that the advice only applies to prescribed medication and that passengers can bring a copy of their prescription instead of a letter from a general practitioner.
EasyJet’s advice also says travelers should contact their “doctor” if they have “any doubt” about their “flight safety”.
And he advised travelers to:
- Bring a “letter” from their primary care physician explaining needles or syringes brought in for treatment of medical conditions
- Provide a “medical certificate” confirming that oxygen cylinders or concentrators are required for medical reasons and that the person is “fit to fly”
- Bring a “medical certificate confirming fitness to fly” if they have severe asthma or any lung condition such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis or bronchiectasis or if they are traveling with a child suffering from respiratory problems
- Seek “medical advice” to determine if oxygen may be needed during the flight if they have lung problems
Last year, the BMA warned that some airlines – including EasyJet – were still asking exempt travelers to wear a face mask to obtain a medical certificate against government guidelines.
He said it risked distracting GPs as overseas travel increased over the summer period and called on the government to remind travel companies that people do not need proof of a physician, “especially amid the enormous workload pressures facing practices.”
And it comes as NHS communications teams use social media to advise patients to speak to their GP about travel plans, although this is outside the remit of GPs.
Last year, NHS England asked GPs to be ‘friendly’ to patients requesting last-minute travel assistance.