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We are no longer able to prescribe Diazepam or similar drugs for flight anxiety. Please see our latest news page for more information about this. Thank you.

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Medications in Flying

Use of Benzodiazepines (and related medications) for flying

Benzodiazepines (e.g., Diazepam/ Lorazepam/Temazepam/Alprazolam/ Clonazepam) are drugs which have been in use since the 1960s for treatment of a wide range of conditions including alcohol withdrawal, agitation and restlessness, anxiety, epilepsy and seizures, neurological disorders. muscle spasms, psychiatric disorders and sleep disturbance.

 

Initial use of benzodiazepines, including the well-known Diazepam also known as ‘Valium’, was enthusiastic and they were hailed as a wonder drug. However, it became increasingly clear that, as well as having short term deleterious effects on memory, co-ordination, concentration and reaction times, they were also addictive if used for a long time, with withdrawal leading to fits, hallucinations, agitation and confusion, and further had long-term effects on cognition and balance. Unfortunately, benzodiazepines have also become a widely used drug of abuse since they first came on the market. Because of these reasons the use of benzodiazepines has been a lot more controlled around the world since the 1980-90s, especially in the UK. Diazepam in the UK is a Class C/Schedule IV controlled drug. The following short guide outlines the issues surrounding its use with regards to flying and why the surgery no longer prescribes such medications for this purpose.

 

Patients often come to us requesting us to prescribe diazepam for fear of flying or assist with sleep during flights. Diazepam is a sedative, which means it makes you sleepy and more relaxed. There are a number of very good reasons why prescribing this drug is not recommended.

 

  • According to the prescribing guidelines doctors follow (British National Formulary) diazepam is contraindicated (not allowed) in treating phobic states.[i] It also states that “the use of benzodiazepines to treat short-term ‘mild’ anxiety is inappropriate.”[ii] Your doctor would be taking a significant legal risk by prescribing against these guidelines. They are only licensed short term for a crisis in generalised anxiety. If this is the case, you should be getting proper care and support for your mental health and not going on a flight.

 

  • NICE guidelines suggest that medication should not be used for mild and self-limiting mental health disorders[iii]. In more significant anxiety related states, benzodiazepines, sedating antihistamines or antipsychotics should not be prescribed. Benzodiazepines are only advised for the short-term use for a crisis in generalised anxiety disorder in which case they are not fit to fly. Fear of flying in isolation is not a generalised anxiety disorder.

 

  • Although plane emergencies are a rare occurrence there are concerns about reduced awareness and reaction times for patients taking Diazepam which could pose a significant risk of not being able to react in a manner which could save their life in the event of an emergency on board necessitating evacuation.

 

  • The use of such sedative drugs can make you fall asleep, however when you do sleep it is an unnatural non-REM sleep. This means you won’t move around as much as during natural sleep. This can cause you to be at an increased risk of developing a blood clot (Deep Vein Thrombosis - DVT) in the leg or even the lungs. Blood clots are very dangerous and can even prove fatal. This risk is even greater if your flight is greater than 4 hours, the amount of time which has been shown to increase the risk of developing DVT whether in an aeroplane or elsewhere.
  • Whilst most people find Diazepam sedating, a small number have paradoxical agitation and aggression. They can also cause disinhibition and lead you to behave in a way that you would not normally which can pose a risk on the plane. This could impact on your safety as well as that of other passengers and could also get you into trouble with the law. A similar effect can be seen with alcohol, which has led to people being removed from flights.

 

  • A study published in 1997 from the Stanford University School of Medicine[iv] showed that there is evidence use of Benzodiazepines stops the normal adjustment response that would gradually lessen anxiety over time and therefore perpetuates and may increase anxiety in the long term, especially if used repeatedly.

 

  • Diazepam and similar controlled drugs are illegal in several countries[v]They may be confiscated, or you may find yourself in trouble with the police. The passenger may also need to use a different strategy for the homeward bound journey and/or other legs of the journey.

 

  • Diazepam stays in your system for quite a while. If your job requires you to submit to random drug testing, you may fail this having taken diazepam.

 

  • It is important to declare all medical conditions and medications you take to your travel insurer. If not, there is a risk of nullifying any insurance policy you may have.

 

Given the above we will no longer be providing Diazepam or similar drugs for flight anxiety.  This policy decision has been made by the GP Partners and is adhered to by all prescribers working in the practice. We suggest the below aviation industry recommended flight anxiety courses.

Flight anxiety does not come under the remit of General Medical Services as defined in the GP contract and so we are not obliged to prescribe for this.  Patients who still wish to take benzodiazepines for flight anxiety are advised to consult with a private GP or travel clinic.

For further information:

https://www.fearlessflyer.easyjet.com/

https://www.britishairways.com/en-gb/information/travel-assistance/flying-with-confidence

https://www.flyingwithoutfear.com/

 

Self help options

 Symptoms – Phobias – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Apps for fear of flying

 

 

Summer Workshops in Nature

To introduce this series of workshops in nature for anyone in North West Leicestershire living with a condition which limits quality or length of life. Hospice Hope are delighted to partner with the National Forest, and with Wild Minds to offer 3 free workshops in the beautiful location of Feanedock, to reconnect people with nature and to improve people’s mental health and wellbeing. For those who have been shielding, or worried about venturing out over this last year, they hope to offer a safe space to enjoy the beauty of our local surroundings and feel more confident about getting back out. 

For more details or to register your interest in any of the dates, please contact:

Liz Waters – Lead in Community Engagement at Hospice Hope
natureworkshops@hospicehope.org.uk
07591 952 027

https://www.hospicehope.org.uk/local-news/latest-news/workshops-in-nature.php

Weight Management in Pregnancy

Weight Management in Pregnancy is a service recently launched by Leicestershire County Council, providing support and expert advice for Leicestershire residents pre, during and post-pregnancy.

If you are currently pregnant, you can access the service via a referral from your midwife.

If you are planning to become pregnant or have recently given birth, you can contact the service on 0116 305 1510, or visit the Weight Management in Pregnancy webpage.

Hearing aid batteries

If you require hearing aid batteries, please do not visit the surgery.

Please contact the Hearing Services team directly on 0116 258 6230 or email hearingservices@uhl-tr.nhs.uk and they will arrange for some to be posted out directly to your home address.

Thank you.

Help for patients who can't get to the shops during the Coronavirus outbreak

If you're unable to get to the shops at the moment the following local companies can deliver to you:

Haydons – Fresh fruit, veg, bread, cold meats and most household sundries. Delivery available. Order by phone. Tel: 01530 260 416.

Sunnyside Garden Centre – non-contact delivery available. Order by phone. Tel: 01530 263 418

BCG Fresh Produce box (fruit, veg, milk) for £25 delivered in a 15m radius of Coalville. Order by phone Tel: 07929 622 028

Inghams at Gnarley Farm. Meat, bread, potatoes, eggs. Free local delivery. Order by phone. Tel: 01455 292 031

British Food Box. Bread, milk, cheese, butter, eggs, yogurt, meat pies and veg. Delivery available within 10 mile of Lodge Farm, Snarestone, DE12 7DA. 07871 808 392.

Once, We Were Soldiers:

Did you know that at least 10% of the UK homeless population is made up of ex-forces personnel?

Leicestershire based charity 'Once We Were Soldiers' currently operate throughout The Midlands, raising awareness and offering support.

For more information on what they do and how you can help can be found here:

Sue Ryder Bereavement Support Service

The Sue Ryder organisation have set up a new online bereavement support service to put people in touch with others going through similar life experiences. Please visit their website for more information:

Sue Ryder Bereavement Support Service

We're on Facebook now!

We now have a Surgery Facebook page, please like and follow our page to stay up to date with news and events:

Ibstock & Barlestone Surgeries Facebook Page

Military Veteran Aware Practice

We have signed up to become a Military Veteran Aware practice.  As part of this initiative we need to know which of our patients are military veterans.  Recently we have asked this question on our registration paperwork but we are sure there are many of our patients who are veterans that we don’t know about. If you are a military veteran please let us know by contacting reception and telling us which of the forces you were in and we will code this on your patient record.  Or you can email us with these details to ibstockhouse@nhs.net but please add in your name, address and date of birth so we can identify your record on  our system. Please read more on our Military Veterans page.

Extended Access Appointments

You can now see a GP or other Healthcare professionals during the evenings, early mornings and weekends in certain circumstances.  These appointments are available during the following times:

  • Weekday Mornings:             7.00am – 8.30am
  • Weekday Evenings:             18.00pm – 22.00pm
  • Saturdays & Sundays:         10.00am – 18.00pm

There are specific criteria for us to be able to offer you one of these appointments.  If your condition is unsuitable for one of the clinics our reception will advise you of this and you will be offered an appointment here instead.

To book an appointment, please call reception on 01530 263467 (Ibstock) or 01455 299923 (Barlestone). You may be able to get an appointment on the same day if required.

The clinician you see will be able to access relevant sections of your medical notes and will communicate what has happened during your appointment back to your usual GP practice.

Please note however, that these appointments will not be in your usual GP practice and will not be with one of your usual GPs or nurses. 

These appointments are available at the following locations:

  • Loughborough Urgent Care Centre at Loughborough Community Hospital
  • Coalville Community Hospital
  • Hinckley and Bosworth Community Hospital

 

If you would like to know more please speak to a member of practice staff.

New Physiotherapy Direct Service

There is a new direct booking service which patients can use to book themselves an appointment with a physiotherapist. Please see our Physiotherapy Direct Service page for more information.

Change to repeat prescription timings

Due to the volume of repeat prescriptions we get, we have made the decision to increase the time to process these to 3 working days.  This will mean that there will be fewer delays and repeat prescriptions should be ready on time after 3 working days notice. We thank patients for their understanding of this change.

Have you recently moved to the area and not yet registered with us?

Please register with us as soon as you can and before you need to use our services. This makes it much easier and quicker for us both when you need an appointment.  Our patient registration forms can be downloaded from: here.  Alternatively pop in and see us at one of the sessions above and we can get the forms filled in there and then.

Evening and Weekend GP Appointments

There are now appointments available for you to see a GP in the early mornings, evenings or at weekends across West Leicestershire.

Depending on your individual circumstances and symptoms, our GPs may offer you an ‘extended access’ appointment. Please note however, that these appointments will not be in your usual GP practice and are unlikely to be with one of our GPs or nurses.

The clinician you see will be able to access relevant sections of your medical notes and will communicate what has happened during your appointment back to your usual GP practice.

If you would like more information please see the West Leicestershire CCG website: https://www.westleicestershireccg.nhs.uk/latest-news/268-extended-access-appointments

Active Signposting by Reception

We have made an agreement between our two surgeries and the local chemists. Now when a patient calls the surgery for an appointment, the receptionist will ask for the patient’s symptoms as usual but if the patient is showing symptoms of an ailment that can be dealt with by the pharmacist, the receptionist will ask the patient to contact the chemist for help.

The list of ailments has been agreed between the doctors and the local pharmacists. By doing this we hope to ensure that patients are dealt with by the correct person first time, thus benefitting patients.

Frequently Asked Questions

We are regularly asked the same questions by patients about how are surgery works. So we've put together a document answering as many of these questions as we can.  To download the document or read the answers please go to our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Organ Donation

We're encouraging patients to sign up for Organ Donation.

If you needed an organ transplant would you have one? If so please help those in need of a transplant by opting to donate organs and tissue.

If this is something you'd like to do please follow the link and sign up here. Organ Donor Register

Teenager wanting advice from the school nurse? Text messaging service now live.

To get advice from the school nurse text 0752 061 5387

New text messaging service for parents/carers of children 0-19.

To get advice from the Public Health nurses (Health Visitors and School Nurses) you can text on:

0752 061 5382

And they can advise on things such as Feeding and Nutrition, Child development, Parenting advice and support, Emotional health and wellbeing, Behaviour difficulties and Family health.

Health News from the BBC and the NHS

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