Mother loses High Court battle over confidentiality

A mother has lost a High Court bid for parents to be informed when a child aged under 16 seeks an abortion or advice on contraception.Caroline Flint

The High Court has rejected Sue Axon’s challenge to government guidance on confidentiality. The Department of Health says it is guaranteed, unless there are serious concerns about a young person’s welfare.

“This judgement confirms that our guidance is fully in line with the law,” said public health minister Caroline Flint.

She added: “Our guidance makes it clear that healthcare professionals should always try and persuade a young person to involve their parents.

“The guidance also stresses that confidentiality is not absolute. Where a health professional believes that there is a risk to the health, safety or welfare of a young person which is so serious as to outweigh the young person’s right to privacy, the case should be referred through local child protection procedures for appropriate action to be taken.

“The government will shortly be publishing further guidance on how cases of potential concern or abuse should be handled and information shared in the revised Working together to safeguard children document. This will give healthcare professionals further guidance on how to deal with individual cases where there may be concerns about sexual activity which is likely to cause significant harm.”

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