Provided by latest GMC guidelines on confidentiality (published 2004, in 2009 pack):-
  • Can be shared with others providing care, but if the patient refuses, it should be upheld unless death or serious harm the patient is at risk of.
  • "You must not disclose personal information to a third party such as a solicitor, police officer or officer of a court with the patient's express consent", except In these circumstances:-
    • The patient or others is at risk of death or serious harm
    • "Where a disclosure may assist in the prevention, detection, or prosecution of a serious crime, especially crimes against the person, such as abuse of children."

Whether to breach confidentiality or not is on the judgement of the doctor whether or not without disclosure, the child is at risk of serious harm.

Generally speaking, disclosure is seen as acceptable if the child is under 13, or the partner involved is 18 or above. A grey area would be those involved who are between 14 and 17 and are Gillick competent, and refuses to disclose to their parents or for the doctor to disclose this information. In these cases, one should assess whether serious harm is involved, and whether a breach in confidentiality will affect the doctor-patient relationship.

  • Wheeler R.(2006) Gillick or Fraser? A plea for consistency over competence in children: Gillick and Fraser are not interchangeable. British Medical Journal , 332 (8 April): 807.
  • Gillick v West Norfolk & Wisbech Area Health Authority [1985] UKHL 7 (17 October 1985) from the British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII) website.
  • Regina v howard (1965) Lord parker C.J.
  • Sexual Offences Act 2003