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Chaperone policy

Requesting a chaperone

All medical consultations, examinations and investigations are potentially distressing. Patients can find examinations and investigations involving the breasts, genitalia or rectum particularly intrusive. These examinations are called “intimate examinations”. A chaperone is an impartial observer present during an intimate examination of a patient. Chaperones are to protect both patients and staff.

Cultural factors should also be considered. This is important when examinations are performed by members of the opposite sex. In addition, children and young people should be provided with chaperones. We will always for all our patients for any examination ensure there is respect, explanation, consent and privacy but we also offer a chaperone for all intimate examinations.

You can request a chaperone when booking a consultation (as well as during a consultation) for yourself or your child.

Frequently asked questions

What does a chaperone do?
As the General Medical Council suggest
A chaperone should usually be a health professional (not necessarily medically trained) and will:

  • be sensitive and respect the patient’s dignity and confidentiality
  • reassure the patient if they show signs of distress or discomfort
  • be familiar with the procedures involved in a routine intimate examination
  • stay for the whole examination and be able to see what the doctor is doing, if practical (so it is important chaperones should place themselves inside the screened-off area rather than outside of the curtains/screen).
  • be prepared to raise concerns if they are concerned about the doctor’s behaviour or actions.”
    Intimate examinations and chaperones – summary – GMC

What if a chaperone is not available?
The Medical protection society covers a number of different scenarios
There may be occasions when a chaperone is unavailable. In such circumstances, the doctor will consider whether or not on a clinical basis the examination is urgent.

  • If the examination is not urgent, then it would be appropriate, after explaining to the patient, to rearrange the appointment for a mutually convenient time when a chaperone and the patient will be available.
  • If the examination is clinically indicated on an urgent basis, and the doctor has enough information from the history to indicate that the patient would require an admission to hospital in any event, then it may be appropriate to defer this examination until admission to hospital, again explaining this to the patient and in the referral letter.
  • If the examination is urgent, and hospital admission is not indicated on the history alone, any delay must not adversely affect the patient’s health, so there may be occasions when a doctor goes ahead in the absence of a chaperone (with the consent of the patient). The fact that the patient was examined in the absence of a chaperone should be recorded, together with the rationale for this.
    Chaperones

What will be recorded in your notes?
The practice will record and code in your medical records when a chaperone is offered:

  • Who acted as a chaperone
  • Their title and
  • And also, when an offer was made and declined.

Further information on a chaperone

From the General Medical Council (GMC)
Intimate examinations and chaperones (summary) Intimate examinations and chaperones – summary – GMC

From the Medical Defence Union (MDU)
Guide to chaperones Guide to chaperones – The MDU

From the Medical Protection Society (MPS)
Chaperones Chaperones

From the Care Quality Commissioner (CQC)
The Care Quality Commissioner (CQC) home page Care Quality Commission

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