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Under-16s confidentiality upheld

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Confidentiality will be respected

Confidentiality will be respected

Department of Health guidance on confidentiality for under-16-year-olds seeking advice on contraception and abortion is “fully in line with the law”, the DoH said this week. The statement came after a mother who challenged the guidelines at a judicial review in the High Court (PJ, 12 November 2005, p596) lost her case.

Caroline Flint, public health minister, said: “I understand this is a difficult issue, which is why, while recognising the high value young people place on confidentiality, our guidance makes it clear that health care professionals should always try to persuade a young person to involve their parents.”

She added: “The guidance also stresses that confidentiality is not absolute. Where a health professional believes that there is a risk to the health, safety or welfare of a young person which is so serious as to outweigh the young person’s right to privacy, the case should be referred through local child protection procedures for appropriate action to be taken.”

Anne Weyman, chief executive of the fpa, commented: “Confidentiality is the single most important factor in a young person’s decision to visit a health service. Compulsory parental notification of their visit would have been a disaster, leading to young people staying away from services and risking unplanned pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. We are relieved those under-16s who need advice can be sure that their confidentiality will be respected.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 10020831

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