AT THE age of 13, a child cannot vote. They cannot marry. They cannot get a full-time job.

They cannot do a lot of things an adult can do because, in the eyes of the law, they are considered to be a child.

Yet they are deemed old enough – and mature enough – to decide whether or not to give permission for their parents’ to access their medical information.

As my husband and I have discovered over the past week, it can actually have a detrimental effect on children and their medical treatment.

Last week, our teenage daughter was very ill and had a blood test but when the results had arrived at the GP’s surgery and I phoned up for them on her behalf, I was told they were unable to even tell me whether the results were in, let alone what the results were because only our daughter was able to do that.

By this time the phones were closing for the day, although the surgery was still open, so we had to drag her out of bed and cart her off to the surgery so that she was able to get the results in person.

The surgery was following advice given by the General Medical Council, which states that GPs: “should let parents access their child’s medical records if the child or young person consents, or lacks capacity, and it does not go against the child’s best interests.

“If the records contain information given by the child or young person in confidence you should not normally disclose the information without their consent.”

It is one of the those passive-aggressive kind of rules that you only realise exists when you are in a crisis situation.

After all, how many of you parents out there have organised for your teenager to write a letter to your GP’s surgery giving their permission for you, their parents, to have access to their medical matters?

It really does not allow for the fact that a child might be too ill to get test results, and also may be simply too young to fully understand them.

The Royal College of General Practitioners says that: “In all cases where a third party asks to have access to the records of someone under 16 years old, it is important to consider the patient’s competence, his or her views on disclosure, and how the patient might be affected if a third party had access to records.”

It simply does not address the issue of circumstances where a delay in getting medical results can lead to a delay in treatment.

The presumption is that parents may be controlling their child, are possibly abusing them and hope to conceal any medical evidence, and that overall parents have sinister ulterior motives in wanting to have access to their child’s medical matters.

But most parents aren’t like that – they are like us – caring and loving parents who are desperately worried about their child’s health and who are doing their best to get medical help for them.

It is wrong that the medical establishment itself works against parents like us.

What’s more it gives a child as young as 13 power over their parents when they may be too young to understand what’s in their best interests.

The guidance appears to have been introduced to encourage teenagers to take up the sexual health advice available to them because of worries about confidentiality.

It allows teenagers as young as 13 to visit their GP for advice on sexual health and pregnancy, free from the fear that their parents will have to be told.

But instead it is used as a one-size-fits-all policy, applied, it seems to me, in some circumstances with very little common sense.