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Gaining independence, taking control of your healthcare

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As a young person, you will be gaining independence and receiving more responsibility. This can seem daunting, particularly if you have a chronic illness, but developing the skills you need to look after your health over time will increase your confidence.

A good time to start thinking about some of the skills and knowledge you might need to manage your future health is after you have started Secondary School.

For more information about changes in your health care see Transition to adult care

Talking to Health Professionals on your own

Having the confidence to talk to your healthcare team on your own is an important part of gaining independence. You could start by thinking of spending some time alone with your team. This gives you the chance to talk about the things that matter most to you, ask your own questions  and get to know your team better.

You can update your parent or carers of any changes in your treatment plan, which will also help them gain confidence.

It is helpful to know your rights and responsibilities when it comes to your healthcare.


Your Rights and Responsibilities

As a young person you will have different rights than as a young child, particularly around consent and confidentiality. Your rights may also be different, but no less important than those of an adult.

Confidentiality means that anyone who looks after your health needs to make sure that your information stays private unless sharing the information is needed for your care or they are worried you are at risk of harm. 

Consent to treatment is the process of giving your permission before any type of medical treatment, test or examination. 

You should always be able to give feedback on your care and treatment. 

Further information on support to find information on health rights for young people

Changes after your 16th birthday

After you turn 16 some things about your healthcare may change.

Consent - you will be asked to decide about treatment or operations. You may already have been providing consent for your healthcare ,but after your 16th birthday you will need to consent to your treatment and may be asked to sign a consent form.

Appointments - You will be expected to make appointments for yourself after you are 16. Your parents or carers will be unable to make, change or cancel an appointment unless you have given permission for them to do so.

To help prepare for this you could  keep track of important dates such as holidays and appointments on your phone.


Health related letters will be addressed to you.  You will need to keep track of your health information.

To help prepare for this you can ask your family what they do with letters they receive. You might want to consider where letters are kept, checking the details are correct and what to do if you are unsure of the information or think something is incorrect.

Your healthcare team will give you more information about the changes that happen as you move from paediatric to adult services and details of our transition programmes are below.



Editorial Information

Last reviewed: 12 January 2021

Next review: 11 January 2027