Consultations between a doctor and patient are confidential. The bottom line is, if you don't want anyone else to be involved, they don't have to be. If you are not an adult, your parents do not have to be involved
What's discussed during a consultation should go no further, unless you give permission for your doctor to inform someone else. That means the receptionist or practice nurse are also not allowed to divulge that you've been at the practice or what was said or found by the doctor.
Occasionally, your doctor may encourage you to talk to someone about your problem or ask for permission to contact them. This is because they feel it will help you. They may feel you don't fully understand the treatment you need, or believe that other help is necessary.
If you are a child and definitely don't want your parents involved, you may be encouraged to talk to a grandparent, aunt or uncle, or older brother or sister, but the doctor cannot insist.
On very rare occasions (if it's felt to be in the best interest of the patient's health and safety) a doctor will breach confidentiality. However, this only happens in exceptional circumstances - for example, if a person with epilepsy is having fits and yet continues to drive.
How to handle your appointment
- Speak to your doctor honestly, it'll be easier for them to help you. Never be frightened to tell your doctor something, they won't announce it to the world and they won't judge you.
- Take a friend with you. This can give you confidence and sometimes it's easier for a friend to tell your doctor about what you want or what's on your mind.
- Write down what you want to ask and take notes about your doctor's advice.
- If you don't understand what your doctor's saying, ask them to explain it more clearly - they won't mind and are happy to help you understand things better.
- If you'd prefer to see either a male or female doctor, tell the receptionist when you make the appointment.
- You don't have to tell the receptionist why you want to see a GP.