What is a chaperone?

St Mary’s Surgery is committed to providing a safe, comfortable environment where patients and staff can be confident that best practice is being followed at all times and the dignity and safety of everyone is of paramount importance.

A chaperone is an adult who is present during an intimate examination of a patient. They are there to protect both the patient and the doctor or clinician from allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

At St Mary’s Surgery, we offer chaperones for both male and female patients in the event that you need to be examined.

To request a chaperone, please either ask reception, or mention this to the GP or clinician at the time of your appointment.

Can my partner, relative or friend act as a chaperone?

You can choose to have your partner, relative or friend with you during your examinations. It can be helpful to think about whether you and they will feel comfortable about this. Also, there could be matters that you would prefer to discuss confidentially with your doctor or clinician.

What about my privacy?

The chaperone will have had training about maintaining confidentiality and will also know what is and what is not necessary during this type of examination.

It is our policy to respect the privacy and dignity of our patients. If you would like a chaperone to be present during a physical examination/consultation, or if you would prefer to be examined by a health professional of the same gender as yourself, please let us know and we will do our best to comply with your wishes.

What if I do not want a chaperone present?

The presence of a chaperone should only be with the agreement of both the patient and the doctor or clinician. During intimate examination of a patient of the opposite sex to a doctor, a chaperone should always be present.

If the examining clinician feels that a chaperone should be present and the offer of a chaperone is declined by the patient, the clinician may not wish to continue with the examination.

Chaperones and children

If the examination is to be carried out on a child, a chaperone must be present at all times. This may be a parent or carer, although there may be some circumstances where this is not appropriate. Children cannot be chaperones for adults or be present during the intimate examinations.

Best practice guidelines

Prior to undertaking any clinical examination the health professional should:

  • Explain why the examination is needed, giving the patient opportunity to ask questions and discuss concerns.
  • Explain what the examination will involve, reassuring the patient if they are likely to experience pain or discomfort.
  • Ensure the patient’s consent is obtained before the examination and be prepared to stop if the patient requests. Consent must be documented.
  • Offer a chaperone. If the patient does not want a chaperone the health professional must record that the offer was made and declined. If a chaperone is present the health professional should record that fact and make a note of the chaperone’s identity.
  • If for justifiable reasons a chaperone cannot be offered the health professional should explain that to the patient, offer to delay the examination or procedure to a later date. The health professional should record the discussion and its outcome.

The practice will ensure that all members of staff receive the level of training necessary for them to fulfil their individual responsibilities identified in this policy.

Updated 19.2.21