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The extent to which chaperone policies are used in acute hospital trusts in England
  1. Neil H Metcalfe1,
  2. Karen L Moores2,
  3. Naomi P Murphy3,
  4. David W Pring3
  1. 1Springbank Surgery, Green Hammerton, York, UK
  2. 2Doncaster Women's Hospital, Doncaster, UK
  3. 3York Hospital, York, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Neil H Metcalfe, Springbank Surgery, Green Hammerton, York, UK; neilmetcalfe{at}


Objective To determine whether the Ayling Inquiry's recommendations (2004) concerning chaperone policy implementation in acute hospital trusts in England has been implemented.

Methods A quantitative questionnaire based on the Ayling Inquiry was posted to medical directors of all acute hospital trusts in England during December 2005 to March 2006 to determine whether their trusts had implemented the inquiry's recommendations by 1 December 2005. The same questionnaire was resent between December 2007 and March 2008 to determine whether their trusts had implemented the inquiry's recommendations by 1 December 2007.

Results The total response rates were 59.4% and 47.7% for the first and second cohorts, respectively. The percentage of trusts having a chaperone policy increased from 41.3% in December 2005 to 56.5% in December 2007. By the end of 2007, 17.3% had accredited training for chaperones, 57.7% had a management lead and 71.2% of trusts formally investigated a breach of the chaperone policy, the latter being a fall from 88.4% in December 2005. Informing patients verbally of the policy was the most common method of distributing the information in both cohorts. By 1 December 2007, 50.0% of trusts did not use any resources towards their chaperone policy. Of the trusts without a chaperone policy by 1 December 2007, 52.5% intend to start a policy.

Conclusion Despite a public inquiry, only a small majority of acute trusts in England have a chaperone policy in place, which may have severe medico-legal repercussions in the future. Commencing a chaperone policy is a must for acute trusts and regular auditing necessary to ensure recommendations be maintained.

  • Clinical governance
  • protocols & guidelines
  • quality in health care
  • risk management

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.