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When it comes to sexual health services, whether at a clinic or GP surgery, young people have the same rights as anyone else whether they’re under or over 16, regardless of their sexuality, ethnic origin, gender, or disability.

All information about a person’s visit is treated confidentially. This means that their personal details and any information about the tests or treatments they’ve had won’t be shared with anyone outside the sexual health service without your permission.

A GP talks about confidentiality at doctors’ surgeries and sexual health clinics

A GP talks about a young person’s right to be seen alone.

Receptionists are never told of a patient’s confidential appointments, but they do have access to people’s records so that they can type letters and carry out other admin duties. They’re not allowed to look at patients’ notes for any other purpose, and nor are they allowed to discuss any information about patients outside work. Sometimes receptionists might ask a patient about the reason for their visit so they can direct them to the best person, whether that’s a GP, nurse, or another member of the team.

The receptionist area is very private at Aphra’s surgery. The receptionists move along the desk if someone wants to talk privately.

Appointments with the GP are confidential regardless of a person’s age. Doctors and nurses have very strict rules on confidentiality so that everything a patient tells them, their personal details and medical records are kept completely private.

However, a GP might encourage a patient to tell others (like a parent) about the problem, or they can speak to them on the patient’s behalf if they’d prefer. This is because sometimes it’s important for those looking after a person to know what’s going on as they might be able to help or support them. The doctor might encourage a young person to tell their parent or guardian, but should respect a patient’s wishes if they don’t want to. If a patient is under 16 and doesn’t want to involve their parents, the doctor can treat them without telling their parents as long as the young person fully understands the choices they’re making. In exceptional cases, though, like when a health professional thinks a young person might be in serious danger, they may need to pass information to police or social services. Even then they must talk to the person first before they tell anyone else, unless that would put someone at risk of harm. 

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