Confidentiality and consent

Before any treatment is carried out, the doctor or nurse has to ask permission to go ahead. Teenagers who are 16 and 17 years of age are entitled to consent to their own treatment, and this consent cannot be overruled by their parents.

Children who are under 16 years of age can also consent to their own treatment if it thought that they can fully appreciate what is involved in their treatment.

No one except the courts can override the consent of a child who is under 16 years of age. However, a person who has parental responsibility for a child, or teenager aged 16 or 17, can override that consent if the child refuses treatment.

Confidentiality
There are strict laws and regulations to ensure that your health records are kept confidential, and can only be accessed by health professionals who are directly involved in your care.
There are a number of different laws that relate to health records. Under the terms of the Data Protection Act (1998) organisations, such as the NHS, must ensure that any personal information that it gathers in the course of its work is:
  • Only used for the stated purpose of gathering the information - which in this case would be to ensure that you receive a good standard of healthcare, and
  • Kept secure
It is a criminal offence to breach the Data Protection Act (1998), and doing so can result in imprisonment.

The Human Rights Act (1998) also states that everyone has the right to have their private life respected, which also extends to the right of keeping your health records confidential.

If you are under 18 and want to see your health records, the hospital must decide whether you have a proper understanding about the nature of the request. If not, a parent can make the request on your behalf. However, the authority would only disclose information to your parent if they thought it was in your interests.

What you can expect from us
As a patient you can expect to:
  • Be treated with respect and dignity at all times
  • Receive a clear explanation of your condition and the treatment options available, including the benefits and risks involved
  • Give your consent before any operation or procedure
  • Have your parents or carers informed about your progress if you request this.
What we ask you to do
As a patient we ask you to:
  • Listen carefully to information about your treatment and medication, and ask our staff for more explanation if anything is unclear or worrying you
  • Treat our staff, fellow patients and visitors politely and with respect. We will not accept violence or racial, sexual or verbal harassment towards anyone in our hospitals
  • Let us know if you are not happy with your care
  • Tell staff if you are going out of the ward or unit
 
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Your rights

If you are under 18 you have the right to:

  • See a doctor, nurse or other health professional alone
  • Give consent or refuse treatment
  • Ask to see your health records

To find out more about your rights as an NHS patient, click here www.nhs.uk