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Airline requests for mask exemption letters risk ‘distraction for GPs’


face masks


Some airlines are still asking travellers exempt from wearing a face mask to obtain a medical certificate, with the BMA warning patient requests will distract GPs as overseas travel increases this summer.

Under current Covid-19 rules, face masks are mandatory on public transport including airplanes, and inside hubs such as airports, unless an underlying medical condition prevents the wearer from using one.

However, the Government guidance states that a person exempt from wearing a mask ‘does not routinely need to show any written evidence of this’ and ‘does not need to seek advice or request a letter from a medical professional’.

The BMA has said the Government should remind travel companies that people do not require proof from a doctor, ‘especially amid the huge workload pressures facing practices, and as overseas travel increases over the summer’.

Currently, there are only 12 countries on the green list for travel, but this number is expected to ‘grow over time as the situation improves globally’, meaning further opportunities for international travel will open up, according to the Government. 

The mask policy currently on the EasyJet website states that customers exempt from wearing a face mask ‘must bring a signed doctor’s letter or medical certificate’ to the airport when they travel with them, which ‘clearly states’ they are exempt. 

Similarly, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) asks those exempt from wearing a mask to ‘present a document from a medical doctor’, while Ryanair asks for ‘a medical certificate attesting your condition’.

A BMA spokesperson told Pulse: ‘Government guidance clearly states that there is no requirement to have written evidence for an exemption for face covering rules and that people do not need to ask for proof from a doctor. Ministers would do well to remind travel companies of this, especially amid the huge workload pressures facing practices, and as overseas travel increases over the summer.

‘As general practice faces unprecedented demand this is exactly the kind of activity that hardworking staff should not be distracted by while doing their utmost to care for ill patients, and practices are not obliged to undertake it.’

Pulse reported in August that several airlines, including EasyJet and Ryanair, had instated policies requiring travellers exempt from wearing face masks to present medical certificates from their GP.

Last summer, GPs were also inundated with questions from patients about the newly established requirement to wear a face covering in shops in England.

Pulse has approached EasyJet, Ryanair and Scandinavian Airlines for comment. 

READERS' COMMENTS [2]

James Bissett 4 June, 2021 5:17 pm

What’s the problem?
Have prepared letters at reception
Patient pays £25 stamp letter and they fill in their own details
If they can afford to go on holidays they can pay for the paperwork required

Reply moderated
David Church 4 June, 2021 9:04 pm

James Bissett – the problem is you have undervalued GPs.
You should be chargiing a lot more for the service you describe.
No Solicitor would let a client use a prepared pro-forma letter for less than about £ 120, so why should you give it for only £ 25 ?

Anyway, it is easy, the ONLY valid medical exemption for wearing an FRSM face-mask is the continuous wearing of a high-flow oxygen mask ! there is NO other valid exemption.

Reply moderated