Young People

Teenage Confidentiality

We would like to reassure young people about their rights to medical help and privacy (confidentiality).

Even if you are under 16 years of age, doctors still have to keep anything you tell them private, just as they would for an adult. So if you seek advice on any problem ranging from a cold to something as personal as contraception or a sexual problem, your doctor will not tell anyone what has been discussed.

Are there exceptions to this?

In exceptional circumstances the doctor may believe that keeping a secret puts either a patient or someone else at risk of harm. For example a doctor may suspect you are being seriously hurt in some way, and may wish to involve other professionals in helping you. No information would be passed without first discussing this option with you.

Do I need my parent's permission?

You don't need your parent's permission to see a doctor, and no information will be discussed with your parents without your agreement. Many parents and young people can talk about their problems together, but many do find it extremely difficult. It can be reassuring to ask a doctor for help and advice.

Equally, keeping a sexual relationship, drug problem or depression secret for example, can be stressful so confiding in your parents, an adult you trust or your doctor may make life easier. 

Can I bring someone with me to my appointment?

It can be supportive to have someone with you. This may be a parent, a friend or a partner.