Why do GP Surgeries need to have a chaperone policy and attend training?

All GP Practices are required to have a chaperone policy for non-clinical staff such as GP receptionists because they may be asked to act as a chaperone. The policy and training is for the benefit of both patients and staff.

Chaperones don’t guarantee protection for doctors against a complaint but they can provide independent evidence of what took place if a patient complains. It also avoids confusion about when to offer a chaperone, who can act as a chaperone and what to do if a chaperone is refused.

Some patients may feel vulnerable if they have to undress or be touched by a doctor, particularly if they are having intimate examinations, and having a chaperone present during an examination can provide reassurance and support.

One questions that comes up regularly on our training course is “if a family member can act as a chaperone,” the answer is no. The GMC guidance states that a relative or friend of the patient is not an impartial observer and so would not usually be a suitable chaperone. They can, of course, be present in the room for the examination if required by the patient but they cannot fulfil the role of a chaperone.

The CQC says that all patients should routinely be offered a chaperone during any consultation or procedure and that  all staff should have an understanding of the role of the chaperone and the procedures for raising concerns.

Safe and Sound’s Chaperone training is designed in line with CQC and GMC guidance. Subjects covered include:

  • What is meant by the term chaperone
  • What is an ‘intimate examination’
  • Why chaperones need to be present
  • The rights of the patient
  • The role and responsibilities of the chaperone
  • Policy and mechanism for raising concerns

For details of Safe and Sound’s Chaperone Training go to: