Information for young people

1. Can I come to see a doctor or nurse without my parents?
If you are 16 or over, you can register and visit the doctors’ surgery on your own. If you are under the age of 16, your parents or carers should come with you, but if you don’t want them to know then you can still register and visit alone, but you might be asked some questions to make sure you’re okay.

2. Will you tell my parents or carers that I’ve visited alone?
If you’re aged 13 or over, you have the same rights to confidentiality as an adult and the doctor, nurse, or pharmacist won’t tell your parents, or anyone else, as long as they believe that you fully understand the information and decisions involved. They will encourage you to consider telling your parents or carers, but they won’t make you. Even if the doctor, nurse, or pharmacist feels that you’re not mature enough to make a decision yourself, the consultation will still be confidential. They won’t tell anyone you saw them, or anything about what you said.

3. Are there any situations when the doctor, nurse, or pharmacist would tell someone that I’ve visited?
Yes – a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist might want to tell someone else if they believe that there is a risk to your safety or welfare, such as abuse. The risk would need to be serious, and they will usually discuss this with you first. In cases like this, we would inform other health care professionals.

4. What if I’m under 13?
You can still visit the doctors’ surgery alone, but generally we would inform your parents or carers unless we felt that there was a risk to your safety or welfare by telling them. If there was a risk, we would not inform your parents or carers, but instead would inform other health care professionals about this risk.

However, there may be circumstances where the doctor, nurse, or pharmacist will not inform your parents, carers, or other health care professionals. In these cases, a doctor will see you to work out whether you are mature enough to understand the advice that you are being given and that you are mature enough to understand what is involved in making certain decisions about your healthcare and treatment.

5. How can I make an appointment?
You can make an appointment by phoning the surgery (you can find our phone number at the bottom of this page) or, if you don’t want to speak to someone, then you can fill in the ‘Request an appointment’ form in the ‘Contact’ section of our website.

6. What will they ask me if I phone the surgery?
A receptionist will usually ask you who the appointment is for and why – this is to make sure that you see the right person at the right time. If it’s something personal then you don’t have to tell them why – just say it’s for something personal. You can also ask to see a male or female doctor if this would make you feel more comfortable. You could also ask to see Sharon - our Sexual Health Nurse.

7. What happens if I don’t like my doctor?
We think that all of our doctors are great at their jobs and care about their patients a lot, but there are times when people just don’t get on with their doctor or feel uncomfortable with them. You can always ask to see a different doctor if it would make you feel more comfortable. You may not be able to do this straight away and you might have to wait for another appointment, so it’s better to say as early as possible.

8. Do I have to tell the doctor or nurse everything?
We strongly recommend that you are as honest as possible with the doctor or nurse that you see because they can make better decisions about your care if they have all the information that they need. If you don’t tell them enough, they won’t have enough information to suggest anything useful.

Remember that the appointment should be a two-way conversation – it’s your appointment and your health so don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially if the doctor says something that you don’t understand or which doesn’t sound right to you.

9. How can I make the most of my appointment?
Sometimes it helps to make a list of things that you want to talk to the doctor or nurse about, or write down some questions that you need to remember to ask them. It might also be useful to make notes for yourself during the appointment and you could ask the doctor or nurse if there are any leaflets or information that you can take with you to read later (although you can find a lot of this in the ‘Support Services’ section under the Health Information menu of our website). A good way to make sure you’ve understood what the doctor or nurse has said to you is by saying it back to them and ask if you’ve got it right.

10. What if I don’t agree with what the doctor or nurse says?
Sometimes a doctor or nurse will suggest treatment for you that they believe is important for your health and wellbeing, perhaps even lifesaving, and you may not want the treatment. These situations can be very difficult and the GP will generally inform your parents or carers unless you are aged 18 or over. If you are under the age of 18 and neither you nor your parents or carers consent to you having the treatment then the doctor or nurse has the option to ask a court to decide whether you should have the treatment. Equally, after seeking legal advice, you have the option to go to court to request or prevent treatment if you think it’s in your best interests.

11. What should I ask the doctor or nurse about treatment that they might suggest?
It is always a good idea to have as much information and understanding of any treatment that the doctor or nurse suggests to you. You could ask the following questions to help you make a decision:

  1. What sort of things will the treatment involve?
  2. What outcome does the doctor or nurse expect from this treatment?
  3. How good are the chances of that outcome?
  4. Are there any alternatives?
  5. What are the risks of this treatment, if any?
  6. If there are risks, are they small risks or big risks?
  7. What could happen if you don’t have treatment?

12. How long can I take to decide?
Sometimes a decision can be difficult to make, and if you are struggling to make a decision then you can say so to the doctor or nurse and in many situations they can give you time to decide as it is up to you whether you would like to go forward with the treatment. In emergencies, decisions may need to be made quickly, but the doctor or nurse will help you to make the decision that is right for you.