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Practice asks 12-year-old to choose hospital appointment

28 July 2008

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A 12-year-old girl has been asked to choose which hospital she should be treated at, the BBC has reported.

The BBC News website described how the girl was surprised to receive a letter asking her to book her own appointment, following a visit to her surgery in North Somerset.

The incident highlights the impact of Choose and Book and the government’s drive for “patient choice”, and how far practices should go to accommodate this.

However, the practice manager at the Somerset surgery said the letter was sent to the 12-year-old for reasons of confidentiality, rather than choice.

The BBC reported practice manager Jose Tarnowski as saying: “We’ve taken the view in this practice that anybody aged 12 and above may well have issues they want to discuss with members of the clinical team that they do not wish to share with their family, parents or guardians”.

She was reported as saying “a blanket policy” was therefore required to uphold this stance.

But the grandmother of the girl told the BBC: “I do not want choice. I would like the GP to choose for me what he or she thinks is relevant for my condition.”

BBC News

Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

“Gillick competence would be the deciding factor and given how mature some chldren are today I can envision a letter to a 12-year-old – perhaps suggesting that they talk to their parents” – Name and address withheld

“We would have sent the letter to a 12-year-old and not to the parent. Every person should be given the respect of confidentiality otherwise how is a child going to trust their GP?” – Lyn, West Midlands

“Of course a 12-year-old should be given a choice of hospital. Twelve-year-olds are able to understand what they are doing therefore their rights should be respected” – Sam, Oxford

“While I appreciate this practice’s stance on confidentiality,  common sense should rule that parents and guardians have a responsibility until the child is sixteen, therefore the choose & book letter should have been sent to the parent/guardian.” – Steve Leadbitter, Peterborough