25th November 2016

General Practice Chaperones

General Practice Chaperones

What is a chaperone?

A chaperone is an ‘impartial observer’ who may accompany patients into a medical appointment (usually ones of a sensitive or intimate nature).  This is often a member of staff at the practice whom the practitioner must feel can be sensitive and respect the patient’s dignity and confidentiality.

The GMC guidance states that the chaperone should be a health professional but Nigel‘s Surgery (myth buster number 15) says that in a GP practice it can also mean a trained non-clinical staff member, such as a receptionist. This individual has a specific role in the consultation and this should be made clear to both the patient and the person undertaking the chaperone role.

Practice policy and procedure

  • Every GP practice should have a written chaperone policy and procedure in place to protect both patients and staff; the CQC KLOE S3 states that you should have reliable systems, processes and practices in place to keep people safe.
  • Staff should be aware of the policy and procedure, and that its purpose is to protect both staff and patients.
  • Practices should all check their practice policy and procedure, and staff’s understanding of it to make sure that it is being followed carefully.

Am I a confident chaperone?

Many staff have been chaperoning for quite a while and may feel confident and experienced with most settings, but would you feel appropriately equipped and trained if something were to go wrong in a chaperoning situation?

How to be a confident chaperone

Have you undergone robust training? Good-quality training should involve in-house role-play scenarios.  Another effective practice is to ask another experienced chaperone to observe you in the role play, and give you some constructive feedback. This may feel hard to do but will build your confidence and allow you to work closely with one another to improve practice.

Training can be delivered externally or provided in-house by an experienced member of staff, so that all formal chaperones understand the competencies required for the role.

This training should be linked to a practice’s policy and procedure and ensure that staff are clear about their role.

Useful Links

1. Nigel's Myth buster talks about chaperones and also tries to dispel the information  regarding DBS checks

2. The GMC has some valuable guidance on Chaperones in paragraphs 8 – 13

The guidance says that ‘a GP should record in the patient notes that a chaperone was present and their identity’.

It is also good practice for chaperones to record each of their chaperoning encounters in the patient notes. This is so that a log of all instances that they acted as a chaperone can be kept. This will serve to protect you, the patient and the GP.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing

Topics: GPs

Michelle Broutta

GP Specialist

In December 2014, Michelle joined the Care Quality Commission as a Specialist Advisor (SpA), Practice Manager. Michelle works with the Inspection team and inspects primary medical services. To date, Michelle has inspected around 60 GP practices across the country.

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