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Sexual health services: your rights

When it comes to sexual health services, you have the same rights whether you are over 16 or under 16 and regardless of your sexuality or gender.

This section gives you some information about your rights and the services and standards you can expect both at Brook and elsewhere. It also gives advice on what you can do if you think the services you have received have not been good enough.


Young people under 16 still have the same rights to confidentiality as anyone else, and you should not be treated any differently.

Doctors and nurses have very strict rules on confidentiality and the law says they have to keep all patient records and information completely private. However, in exceptional circumstances, like when a doctor or health worker thinks you might be in serious danger, they might feel there is a need to pass information on but, even if they do, they must talk to you first before they tell anyone else. This applies to everyone, no matter what age you are.

Government guidance for workers in England means that they are more likely to be more worried about young people under 13 who are having sex, and might think it would be in the young person’s best interest to get some extra help from a social worker.

If you are worried about confidentiality you can always call your doctor’s surgery without telling them who you are and ask them some questions, like:

Is the information that I give you kept confidential?

Do you ever tell anyone else about young people who ask for contraception or advice about sex?

Would you ever tell anyone else about my visit without telling me first?

Going to a different doctor

If you need to see a GP, but don’t want to go to your usual one, you have the right to consult another doctor.

There could be a number of reasons why you might want to go to a different doctor. You might need to see another doctor if your own one doesn’t provide contraception services. You might be feeling embarrassed at the thought of talking to your family doctor about sensitive subjects, like abortion or sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing or, maybe, you just don’t like your doctor. Whatever your reason, you have the right to consult another doctor.

You could opt to see another doctor at your GP surgery and you can ask your new doctor not to tell your regular GP that you have been prescribed contraception if you wish. But if you’d prefer to go elsewhere, there are other places you could go. You can go to your nearest Brook serviceyoung person’s servicefamily planning clinic or sexual health clinic and get free and confidential medical advice, contraception and treatment. Read about all the options open to you and what each one is best for.


You have the right to speak confidentially with a doctor, nurse or medical professional about contraception as well as to be provided with it.

Government guidance for health workers in England means that they are more likely to be more worried about young people under 13 who are having sex, and might think it would be in the young person’s best interest to get some extra help from a social worker.

There are lots of methods of contraception to choose from and different methods suit different people. You can explore our section on contraception but perhaps the best way to find out which methods are most suitable for you is to speak with a doctor or nurse. Find your nearest Brook service

All contraception is free on the NHS in the UK, so you don’t need to pay anything for it.

Medical records

Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), you have a legal right to see your medical records.

If you want to see your records ask at your GP surgery and you can arrange a time to go in and read them. Sometimes you might be required to ask in writing. The law states that your hospital, or surgery, has up to one month to respond.

Making a complaint

If you’re not happy with the care or treatment you’ve received, or if you’ve been refused treatment for a condition you have the right to complain and have your complaint investigated.

Most doctors, nurses and health workers want to help you and do all they can to make you feel comfortable when you ask for their advice, but, occasionally things go wrong, or you may feel you have been given bad advice.

You can complain in person or ask someone else you trust, such as a family member or friend, to complain on your behalf. It’s best to make your complaint as soon as possible and definitely within six months.

You can complain either to the service that you’re unhappy with or you can complain to whoever commissions your local services instead.


    Other Stuff you might find useful…

    I’m 15, can I have sex?
    What is abortion?
    Getting tested for STIs
    Do I have an STI?
    Do I need to see a doctor?
    Vaginas & Vulvas
    Myths about long-acting reversible contraception (LARC)
    Emergency Contraception: The IUD or the Morning After Pill


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