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Children involved in treatment

28th September 2007

The General Medical Council (GMC) has warned doctors that they must do more to respect the wishes and views of young patients.

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New guidance issued by the GMC recommends that children should be involved directly in discussions about their care and given the same rights to confidentiality as adults.

The move, the first time the GMC has specifically laid out the roles and responsibilities of doctors when treating those under the age of 18, comes after a consultation found children do not always feel doctors take them seriously.

It also reinforces the position that under 16s should have confidential access to sexual health and contraception services.

GMC president Professor Sir Graeme Catto said: “This document recognises that children are individuals with rights that should be respected.�

Dr Patricia Hamilton, president, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said all doctors have responsibility for children and young people at some stage in their professional lives.

“This is an important step forward in ensuring the medical profession recognises that children are not just 'little adults' and that their specific needs should be met accordingly,� she said.

The guidance says cultural or religious beliefs should be taken into account and children should be given appropriate information about their condition and treatment.

The GMC recommendations come after a three-month consultation with 350 children and young people and 600 doctors, parents and organisations.

The children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent said anything that prompts medical professionals to discuss treatment options directly with young people should be encouraged.

 

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