Dignity, Privacy and Respect Policy

The practice will ensure that patients are afforded privacy and dignity, and are treated respectfully in all circumstances, where there is any potential for embarrassment or for the patient to feel “ill at ease”.

The requirement to respect patients is the responsibility of all staff, not just those in direct clinical contact with the patient.

This is a broad range of patients and may include:

• Elderly or infirm patients
• Disabled patients
• Illiterate patients
• Patients who are homeless / have no fixed abode
• Patients with communication difficulties
• Patients with gender requirements
• Friends and family of staff
• Patients from minority groups


  • The Practice will not stereotype patients based on perceived characteristic
  • Patients will be referred to with respect, including in private discussions in the surgery
  • Patients will be addressed by their preferred method and titles. Mr, Mrs etc. will be used as a first preference by staff
  • A sign will be available in reception to offer the facility of a private discussion with a receptionist if required
  • Guide dogs will be permitted in all parts of the building.
  • Under no circumstances will staff enter through a closed consultation room / treatment room door without first knocking, and waiting for permission to enter (if occupied), or pausing to determine that the room is empty


  • Patients will be allowed free choice of gender of doctor and nurse, where available, and will be able to wait or delay an appointment to see their choice of clinician. Where clinically urgent, patients will be encouraged to see a clinician appropriate for their “best care”, however undue pressure is not appropriate
  • Consultations will not be interrupted unless there is an emergency, in which case the room will be telephoned as a first step, before knocking at the door and awaiting specific permission from the clinician to enter
  • A chaperone will be offered where an examination is to take place.
  • Clinical staff will be sensitive to the needs of the individual and will ensure that they are comfortable in complying with any requests with the potential to cause embarrassment
  • Patients will be afforded as much time and privacy as is required to recover from the delivery of “bad news”, and the clinical staff will, where possible, anticipate this need and arrange their appointments accordingly
  • Patients will be able to dress and undress privately in a treatment room or, where a separate treatment room is not available, a screen will be provided for that purpose. Patients using this facility will be requested to advise the clinician when they are ready to be seen, and they will be afforded sufficient time to do this, bearing in mind infirmity etc. 
  • A clean single-use blanket, sheet, gown or similar will be available in each examination / treatment room, changed after each patient, and the patient will be advised of its availability
  • Washing facilities will be offered to the patient if required
  • Clinicians and staff will allow “personal space” where possible and respect this
  • Patients will be given adequate opportunity, time and privacy for the provision of samples on the premises without feeling under duress or time limitation
  • The area used for dressing / undressing will be equipped with coat / clothes hangers, pegs, or similar for clothes, and will have a chair with arms at a suitable height and design available and suitable for the patient to use
  • Patients with difficulty in understanding due to language may have a family member or friend available to interpret or assist
  • Communication by staff to patients will be individual according to the needs of the individual patient (e.g. those with speech difficulties, hearing, or learning difficulties may need an individual approach)
  • Where an intimate examination is considered necessary to be performed on a patient with difficulty in understanding due to language or other issues (e.g. consent or cultural issues) it is recommended that a Chaperone or family member / carer should always be present
  • Areas used by patients for dressing / undressing will be secure from interruption or ingress (i.e. there will be no unlocked door to either a corridor or to any room not occupied by the consulter who is attending that patient)