Doctors Note re: pregnancy

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Old Dec 5, 18, 7:44 am
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Doctors Note re: pregnancy

Afternoon all,

Chatting to BA help-desk today, I was informed that the policy on requiring a doctor's note during pregnancy has recently changed. Previously, a note was only required 28 weeks onward, however now it is required at any stage of pregnancy. This came into effect a couple of weeks back. My wife will only be 20 weeks when we travel but would be impacted by this new rule.

Anyone else heard of this? BA should be informing customers of this change in rule to prevent issues at gate.
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Old Dec 5, 18, 7:58 am
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Here is the BA policy on pregnancy: https://www.britishairways.com/en-gb...nancy#pregnant

Travelling when you're pregnant

For your and your baby’s safety you cannot fly after:
  • the end of the 36th week if you are pregnant with one baby
  • the end of the 32nd week if you are pregnant with more than one baby
We recommend that you carry a confirmation from your doctor or midwife of whether your pregnancy is single or multiple, your expected due date, and there are no complications.

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Old Dec 5, 18, 8:00 am
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Ive not heard of this rule, and i have 2 bookings for my wife, one at 19 weeks and another at 27 weeks
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Old Dec 5, 18, 8:21 am
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As a GP the subject of GANFYDs ('Get a note from you doctor') is a source of huge frustration for the profession. The consensus among GPs is that we are not trained or indemnified in aviation medicine and should not provide 'fit to fly' notes for any medical condition or pregnancy. That's not to say that notes can't be provided that simply state how many weeks pregnant a woman is, but it's a waste of NHS and patients' time.
Airlines and their regulatory bodies have their own guidance on when pregnant women can fly and it is beyond pointless to ask for a doctor's note if the number of weeks of gestation can be proven with scan reports or other evidence.
(I know this doesn't necessarily help you)
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Old Dec 5, 18, 8:25 am
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Originally Posted by sammyboy999 View Post
As a GP the subject of GANFYDs ('Get a note from you doctor') is a source of huge frustration for the profession. The consensus among GPs is that we are not trained or indemnified in aviation medicine and should not provide 'fit to fly' notes for any medical condition or pregnancy. That's not to say that notes can't be provided that simply state how many weeks pregnant a woman is, but it's a waste of NHS and patients' time.
Airlines and their regulatory bodies have their own guidance on when pregnant women can fly and it is beyond pointless to ask for a doctor's note if the number of weeks of gestation can be proven with scan reports or other evidence.
(I know this doesn't necessarily help you)
Good point. There does seem to be some confusion - the ba.com page linked to upthread seems to suggest the note only need to confirm number of babies, expected due date, and that there are no complications. These seem to be factual statements and presumably don't cause any issues with your professional insurance. There doesn't seem to be any requirement, in this case at least, for you to provide an opinion on whether a patient is actually fit to fly.
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Old Dec 5, 18, 8:46 am
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What an absurd policy.
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Old Dec 5, 18, 8:51 am
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So I called the BA passenger medical clearance unit telephone number, and an automated response advises the following:

- You should take your pregnancy notes
- If you don't have your notes, a letter from your doctor or midwife outlining date of delivery, and that there are no complications at present.

BA PMCU Telephone
+ 44 (0) 20 8738 5444- Option 2
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Old Dec 5, 18, 9:10 am
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Originally Posted by KARFA View Post
Good point. There does seem to be some confusion - the ba.com page linked to upthread seems to suggest the note only need to confirm number of babies, expected due date, and that there are no complications. These seem to be factual statements and presumably don't cause any issues with your professional insurance. There doesn't seem to be any requirement, in this case at least, for you to provide an opinion on whether a patient is actually fit to fly.
What about the medical opinion that there are no complications? Wouldn't additional and generally otherwise unnecessary tests be required to verify this?
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Old Dec 5, 18, 9:21 am
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
What about the medical opinion that there are no complications?

That doesn't sound like an opinion to me, just a statement of facts. I don't see there is any expectation that additional tests are done beyond those normally carried out for pregnancy to verify that. If no complications are present then it would be a factual statement for a GP to say that - no opinion is being given on whether the patient is fit to fly.
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Old Dec 5, 18, 9:34 am
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In the UK, expecting mothers carry their notes, they are not kept at the hospital. This is NOT the case pretty much everywhere else. The BA policy would be at odds with many (?most) airlines. I presume the issue has arisen from some high risk pregnancies (e.g. multiples) that had early complications. I wouldn't be surprised if lots of expecting mums were caught out by this policy: and also surprised if BA refused to carry passengers that were in early/ mid pregnancy (one can imagine the Sun headlines!).

tb
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Old Dec 5, 18, 9:48 am
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It is unclear what OP means by "help desk" and just like many other BA functions which are stovepiped, it is entirely possible that the staff member on the other end of the line did now know or have ready access to the answer.

BA's policy is clearly displayed on its website and, unless there are other issues which require attention as an "incapacity" calling will not override the policy.

The specific question which BA asks seems to be a fact-based question which any physician would answer for a patient even if the air carrier did not ask, e.g., "do I suffer from any complications and if so, which ones?" Those complications, if any, disclosed by reasonable care in the location, are known to the physician.

Other "Fit to Fly" determinations do place the physician in a tough spot and I suppose that it is a matter of policy whether the physician (or NHS, in this case) will provide such advice. However, this seems to be what physicians routinely do, e.g. answer functional questions such as "may I ski" or "may I go for a run" or "may I fly to a long-haul destination at high altitude".
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Old Dec 5, 18, 9:58 am
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
It is unclear what OP means by "help desk"
This was advised on the bronze telephone line. My initial query mentioned my wife was 20 weeks pregnant and the agent advised I needed a letter. I advised the agent that my wife was 20 weeks, not 28 and therefore did not require this. The agent reaffirmed a letter was required and this change in policy only came in a couple of weeks ago. Completely agree though that she possibly may have been mistaken.
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Old Dec 5, 18, 10:05 am
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We flew a number of times on BA during my wife's pregnancy (baby born in July) and it was only when she was really really showing (around week 28/30) that we were asked at check-in how many weeks pregnant she was and then for a doctors note, which of course we had both times when we flew at week 28 and I think week 31. On the earlier flights around week 20, she was never asked for anything letter wise at check-in / the gate but I deliberately didn't book exit row seats.

Sounds like you were misinformed...
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Old Dec 5, 18, 10:43 am
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I can imagine some very awkward conversations of checkin staff with women who are not pregnant but look like week 30.
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Old Dec 5, 18, 10:45 am
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Originally Posted by trueblu View Post
In the UK, expecting mothers carry their notes, they are not kept at the hospital. This is NOT the case pretty much everywhere else. The BA policy would be at odds with many (?most) airlines. I presume the issue has arisen from some high risk pregnancies (e.g. multiples) that had early complications. I wouldn't be surprised if lots of expecting mums were caught out by this policy: and also surprised if BA refused to carry passengers that were in early/ mid pregnancy (one can imagine the Sun headlines!).

tb
One could imagine that return flights from Ibiza, Tenerife, Las Vegas etc (I.e the more hedonistic destinations) would have quite a few empty seats if very early stage pregnancies were included in the policy!
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