Moves to strengthen confidentiality for young people have been hailed as a step forward in efforts to bring down teenage pregnancy rates.
Public health bodies have welcomed guidance from the General Medical Council that says the same duties of confidentiality apply to adults and children.
The regulator has published 0-18 Years: guidance for all doctors following a consultation with young people which found they had concerns about confidentiality when visiting their doctor. However, information should be shared about sexual activity involving children under 13, who are considered in law to be unable to consent.
Faculty of Public Health president Dr Alan Maryon-Davis said the guidance had cleared up an area of uncertainty. 'It is a very good thing to have clarity about how doctors can deal with young people. It's been a grey area for a long time and there is a lot of uncertainty.'
Association of Directors of Public Health president Dr Tim Crayford said: 'Maintaining trust with young people is an essential part of delivering good reproductive health services. The situations where confidentiality should and should not be maintained are presented here in a very well-considered document.'