So many younger people and indeed, a lot of parents, have been wondering what the legal age is that people can go to the doctor’s alone. Numerous parents struggle to find time in a busy day to take children to the doctors so hopefully we can help you out a little!!
If you’re under 16 you can go to a doctor on your own, but they may be reluctant to prescribe medication without your parents’ consent. Often, they will judge for themselves if you are mature and competent enough to take responsibility for your own health. Sometimes they will ask for a parent to be present when prescribing medicine but may have the actual appointment with you alone.
However, if they suspect child abuse or any risk of serious harm, they will usually report it and your parents will be involved then. They can also contact your school and any other professionals involved in your life without telling you or the family to help them get the best advice to treat your situation properly. The duty to protect you can override confidentiality.
The official NHS website tells us that once children reach the age of 16, they can agree to examination or treatment just like adults. People providing health care do not then have to ask you for consent as well. Also, children under 16 may still be able to give consent for themselves, provided they are mature enough to understand fully what is involved, the doctor will make the judgement on if you are mature enough or not. The Gillick competency and Fraser guidelines help people who work with children to balance the need to listen to children’s wishes with the responsibility to keep them safe. More information here: https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/media/1541/gillick-competency-factsheet.pdf
Where to get help
NHS Patient Rights – The following link will explain what you are entitled to and what to expect before, during and after seeing a GP – https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/health/nhs-healthcare/nhs-patients-rights/
If you feel comfortable enough, a parent or responsible guardian should be able to provide advice for you on when to see a GP but if you don’t feel comfortable enough, a teacher or a school councillor is a great option if guidance is required. If none of these provide satisfactory help or a sudden new issue arises, ChildLine can be called on 0800 1111 or you can visit their website to look for help or online chat to a trusted worker at https://www.childline.org.uk/ or https://www.childline.org.uk/info-advice/you-your-body/getting-help/visiting-your-doctor/