The law on this is quite straightforward from a medical point of view. Any child over the age of 16 is able to give consent for their own treatment. Any child under the age of 16, if thought to be mature enough, is also able to give consent. The duty of confidentiality owed to a person under 16 is as great as that owed to any other person.
We do however seek parental consent for College staff to administer prescribed and non-prescribed medicines and to give boarders immunisations as recommended by the Department of Health. The consent form is found on the back page of the Health Certificate. Please be aware that in the absence of your consent we would not be legally permitted to administer medications. The Head, Health Centre Staff and Matrons can act in loco-parentis and will, in incredibly rare situations, consent for emergency treatment, operations etc. We will always endeavour to contact parents or guardians and gain consent verbally in such a situation.
Most medical matters within the school do not need strict confidentiality, for example a child with a sore throat or sprained ankle would approach Matron. Matron will send the child to the Health Centre where treatment plans are made as appropriate. Most pupils are happy for this information to be relayed to House staff. For the vast majority of cases, it is in the pupil’s best interest that Matron, teachers and sports staff know what is happening and there are no difficulties regarding confidentiality.
From a medical point of view there are very few instances when we would not strongly encourage a pupil to discuss all aspects of their medical care with their parents and this is something we would always encourage pupils to do. However, every patient’s expectation of confidentiality must be respected and the law on confidentiality and consent is very clear.