0-18 years: guidance for all doctors

Our booklet Good medical practice describes what is expected of all doctors registered with the GMC. The guidance that follows, which is for all doctors, develops the duties and principles set out in Good medical practice and in our other guidance. It focuses on children and young people from birth until their 18th birthday (see appendix 1). It is your responsibility to be familiar with Good medical practice and 0-18 years and to follow the guidance they contain. It is guidance, not a statutory code, so you must use your judgement to apply the principles to the various situations you will face as a doctor, whether or not you hold a licence to practise and whether or not you routinely see patients. You must be prepared to explain and justify your decisions and actions.

In 0–18 years: guidance for all doctors, the terms ‘you must’ and ‘you should’ are used in the following ways:-

  • 'You must' is used for an overriding duty or principle
  • 'You should' is used when we are providing an explanation of how you will meet the overriding duty
  • 'You should' is also used where the duty or principle will not apply in all situations or circumstances, or where there are factors outside your control that affect whether or how you can comply with the guidance.

Serious or persistent failure to follow this guidance will put your registration at risk.

0-18 years: guidance for all doctors on-line

  • Use the tabs below to navigate the guidance;
  • Find resources explaining how the principles in this guidance apply in situations doctors often encounter or find hard to deal with;
  • Read about the background to the development of the guidance.

0-18 years: guidance for all doctors

You can use the online version or the headings on the left to find the guidance you need quickly and easily.

You can navigate through the guidance page by page using the links at the foot of each page or browse for something more specific through the contents page, or open a pdf version of 0-18 years: guidance for all doctors. (pdf)

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Supporting materials

GMP in action

GMP in action is an interactive web section which brings the GMC's ethical guidance to life.

You get to choose what the doctor should do in a series of case studies highlighting how the principles in our guidance might work in practice.

The following case studies explore issues covered in 0-18 years: guidance for all doctors:

Sarah who is 15 years old

Sarah is 15 years old. She has come alone to the GP surgery seeking advice about contraception. Should Dr Williams see her without a chaperone? And should she report child protection concerns to Sarah’s parents or social services? Decide what Dr Williams should do.

Jacquie a single parent

Jacquie is a single parent receiving treatment for substance abuse. Should her GP, Dr Clifford report escalating child protection concerns children’s social services and what information should she share? Decide what Dr Clifford should do.

Christopher and his mother

Christopher’s parents are divorced. His mother wants his ears pinned back to stop playground bullying. Is that appropriate? And is one parent’s consent enough, or should Dr Williams ask for Christopher’s father’s consent, too? What access should doctors allow divorced parents to their children’s medical records? Decide what Dr Williams should do.

Picture of Mr and Mrs Burton

Mr and Mrs Burton don’t want Dr Simpson to tell their son Andrew that he has cancer. They are concerned that it will only upset him and that he’s too young to understand. How should Dr Simpson respond to this and to Andrew’s request for more information and refusal of further treatment? Decide what Dr Simpson should do.

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“KNOW UR RIGHTS AT THE DOCTORS” – poster launched January 2009

A poster informing young people of their rights when visiting a doctor was launched on 12 January 2009 as part of the process of implementing the guidance. The poster was designed by young people aged between 13 and 15 years, as part of a project commissioned by the General Medical Council and run by the National Children’s Bureau. Read a news release about the poster.

How the guidance was developed

0-18 years: guidance for all doctors has been produced following an extensive consultation process.

Read more about how the guidance was developed: The development of 0-18 years: guidance for all doctors (71kb, pdf).

Involving children and young people

Children and young people have been involved in the development of 0-18 years: guidance for all doctors in a variety of ways.

The front cover of the guidance booklet was designed by the winner of our poster competition, 13 year old Paul McAleenan.

Entrants to the competition were asked to design an image that illustrated what they felt about doctors or how they thought doctors should treat them.
Know your rights at the doctors

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Know your rights at the doctors

know your rights

Know your rights at the doctors