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GMC launches new child patient guidance

By Georgie Hobbs

The GMC has issued its first ever guidance on how doctors should treat young patients, confirming that teenagers should have the same rights to confidentiality as adults.

The booklet, called 0-18 years: guidance for all doctors, clarifies that parents cannot override the competent consent of a young person for treatment that the GP deems in the patient's best interest.

The guidance, which stresses the rights of young patients for the first time, is a response to children's charities who found that 25% of girls under 16 do not seek advice on existing sexual relationships e-cause they fear consultations would not be kept confidential. By issuing guidance now, the GMC aim to ‘remind' doctors to communicate effectively with young patients, said president, Professor Sir Graeme Catto.

‘Throughout our consultation young people told the GMC that doctors don't always listen to them or take them seriously,' said Professor Catto.

The guidance stresses that GPs must judge under 18s as ‘individuals' and make an effort to balance their maturity, not just their age, with their best interests.

‘A 12-year-old may be able to consent to having a plaster put on her leg, but not an abortion, where as a 14-year-old might,' a GMC spokesperson added.

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