Confidentiality

The Charter of Patient Rights and Responsibilities tells you about your rights and responsibilities when using NHS services in Scotland.

If you're under 16, your rights and responsibilities around consent, confidentiality and feedback may be slightly different but no less than an adults.

Confidentiality means that anyone who looks after your health has to keep information about you private. This may be doctors, nurses, pharmacists or other health workers.

What information is confidential?

Confidential information includes:

  • anything you say
  • anything someone writes about you
  • details of any treatment you've had

Talking to health workers

You can talk to health workers about anything to do with your health.

Health workers must keep your information confidential if you talk to them about something personal, such as:

  • sex
  • relationships
  • pregnancy
  • contraception
  • drugs and alcohol
  • feeling down

Sharing your information

They may share information about you with other health workers who are looking after you to make your care safer, easier and faster.

They'll only share information that is needed to give you the best care.

If there are particular things that you don't want to be shared, tell your health worker.

If they think you are at risk of serious harm or you are in danger, they may have to tell another adult about it to be able to help you. But even then, they should tell you they're going to do this and explain who they will tell and why.

Sometimes the law allows the health service to share information about you without you agreeing to it. This would only happen if you have an illness that puts other people at risk, such as meningitis.

Health records

You should be able to see your health records if you want to know about treatment that you’ve had, or check that information about you is correct.

Your health records should be presented in a way that you can understand with any codes or words you don’t understand explained to you.

It’s your choice whether to look at your health records. If you choose to see them, you may have to pay a cost. However, you will be told about this first.

To find out more about seeing your health records, ask to speak to the practice manager at your GP surgery, or the records manager at the hospital.

Find out more about health records

Child protection services

Sometimes, people who inspect child protection services may ask to look at the records of children who have been involved with these services. This is to make sure that children are protected from harm.

These inspectors must keep your personal information safe and private, unless they think you are in danger.

Concerns and complaints

If you think that what you've told a health worker hasn’t been kept private or that something in your health records is wrong, you should:

  • tell one of the health workers who has been involved in your care
  • ask your parent or another adult you trust to do this for you

If you’re still unhappy, it’s okay to make a complaint.

Find out how to give feedback or make a complaint

Feedback

You should always provide feedback about the care you receive. This will help make the NHS better for you and other young people.

What to provide feedback about

You can tell us about anything that is important to you. We would like to hear your comments, suggestions or concerns about:

  • how you've been treated by health workers and whether you have been given enough information about your care or treatment
  • whether there should be more services for young people
  • you're visit to hospital and what you thought of the food and wards
  • being listened to by health workers and having more involvement in discussions about your care

How to give feedback

There are many ways to give feedback, including:

  • speaking to any health worker looking after you
  • putting your comments in a suggestion box
  • talking to your parent, guardian or another adult you trust
  • giving your feedback directly to your local health board
  • contacting the Patient Advice and Support Service

Health board feedback

You can provide feedback to your health board:

How to make a complaint

Before making a complaint, you should try speaking to one of the health workers who is looking after you. Sometimes a problem can be sorted out on the spot.

If you don’t want to do this, you can:

  • speak to someone in charge where you received your care – for example, your doctor’s practice manager
  • complain in person, writing or phone directly to your health board

Who to complain to at your board

You can find the contact details of who to complain to at your health board by:

  • asking a member of staff
  • contacting NHS inform on 0800 22 44 88
  • visiting your health board’s website

What to include in your complaint

When making a complaint you should give as much information as you can. This will help us look into your complaint as quickly as possible.

You should include the following information when making a complaint:

  • Your name
  • What happened
  • When and where it happened
  • The names of any staff involved
  • Your address or the address of someone you trust
  • An email address if you would like to be contacted through email. Not all complaints teams can contact you this way but you have the right to ask

After you have made a complaint

After receiving your complaint, the NHS will try to sort it on the spot. If this is not possible, you will be written to within three working days to let you know that it is being looked into and what will happen next. Your complaint will then be investigated further and you will be written to within 20 days to let you know what’s happened.

In this letter, you will find:

  • an explanation of what has or will be done to stop this happening again
  • an explanation as to why any part of your complaint cannot be resolved
  • an apology if it is decided that the NHS have done something wrong
  • information about what to do next if you’re unhappy with the response to your complaint

The NHS handles all complaints in a way that ensures everyone is treated fairly, regardless of age or location.

Help and Support when making a complaint

You can find support to make a complaint about the NHS through one of the many organisations setup to give help and advice to young people around their rights.

Health rights support for young people

Support

If you'd like more information about the health rights of young people or have any questions, you may find the following organisations can help.

Scottish Child Law Centre

The Scottish Child Law Centre offers free and confidential legal advice for young people.

This is the only law centre in Scotland dedicated to young people.

Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People (SCCYP)

SCCYP can give you information about your rights and tell you about organisations that can help you.