- To provide further medical treatment for you e.g. from district nurses and hospital services.
- To help you get other services e.g. from the social work department. This requires your consent.
- When we have a duty to others e.g. in child protection cases anonymised patient information will also be used at local and national level to help the Health Board and Government plan services e.g. for diabetic care.
If you do not wish anonymous information about you to be used in such a way, please let us know.
Reception and administration staff require access to your medical records in order to do their jobs. These members of staff are bound by the same rules of confidentiality as the medical staff.
Patient confidentiality for teenagers
Consultations between a doctor and patient are confidential. The bottom line is, if you don’t want your parents or anyone else to be involved, they don’t have to be.
What’s discussed during a consultation should go no further, unless you give permission for your doctor to inform someone else. That means the receptionist or practice nurse are also not allowed to divulge that you’ve been at the practice or what was said or found by the doctor.
You can insist that your doctor doesn’t write anything down on paper or record anything on the computer, although it’s usually a good idea as it helps the doctor later to have some sort of notes.
Occasionally, your doctor may encourage you to talk to your parents about your problem or ask for permission to contact them. This is because they feel it will help you. They may feel you don’t fully understand the treatment you need, or believe that adult help is necessary.
If you definitely don’t want your parents involved, you may be encouraged to talk to a grandparent, aunt or uncle, or older brother or sister, but the doctor cannot insist.
Many teenagers see their doctor for the contraceptive pill. If you’re under 16 your doctor will only prescribe this – or any other medication – if they think you’re mature enough to understand how to use it correctly, and you’re aware of the implications and risks involved.
On very rare occasions (if it’s felt to be in the best interest of the patient’s health and safety) a doctor will breach confidentiality. However, this only happens in exceptional circumstances – for example, if a person with epilepsy is having fits and yet continues to drive.
How to handle your appointment
- Speak to your doctor honestly, it’ll be easier for them to help you. Never be frightened to tell your doctor something, they won’t announce it to the world and they won’t judge you.
- Take a friend with you. This can give you confidence and sometimes it’s easier for a friend to tell your doctor about what you want or what’s on your mind.
- Write down what you want to ask and take notes about your doctor’s advice.
- If you don’t understand what your doctor’s saying, ask them to explain it more clearly – they won’t mind and are happy to help you understand things better.
- If you’d prefer to see either a male or female doctor, tell the receptionist when you make the appointment.
- You don’t have to tell the receptionist why you want to see a GP, although it helps the clinical staff to prioritise patients.