Sexual Safety Collaborative

The Sexual Safety Collaborative is part of a wider Mental Health Safety Improvement Programme (MHSIP) which was established by NHS Improvement (NHSI), in partnership with the Care Quality Commission (CQC), in response to a request made by the Secretary of State.

The Sexual Safety Collaborative has been established in response to the CQC report on Sexual Safety on Mental Health Wards and aims to meet a number of objectives:

  • produce a set of standards around sexual safety during the mental health and learning disability inpatient pathways (including a strategy to measure and support quality improvement)
  • run a national quality improvement (QI) collaborative to support inpatient mental health teams in every mental health trust in England to use QI to improve sexual safety on their wards
  • produce a library of resources, building on best practice to support the work of mental health trusts to improve sexual safety.

To learn more about the collaborative, you can listen to our podcast.

The national quality improvement collaborative launched on 21 October 2019 and paused from March to September 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The programme has resumed and will now end September 2021. If you have any queries about the programme, please email us.

Sexual Safety Collaborative: Standards and guidance

In 2018, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found that 1,120 sexual safety incidents (out of nearly 60,000 reports) occurred over a three-month period across NHS trust mental health wards, affecting not only service users but also staff and visitors. To address these findings and respond to the recommendations for improvement, NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE/I) commissioned the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (NCCMH) to develop standards and guidance on improving sexual safety in inpatient environments.

The standards have been coproduced with a wide range of stakeholders including people with lived experience, clinicians, ALB representatives and more. In total, three expert reference group meetings, two focus groups, two rounds of consultation and various meetings with specialists on particular aspects of the guidance have taken place.

The sexual safety standards are applicable to all people within the inpatient environment and can be used to keep everybody safe: those receiving care, staff and visiting staff, families, friends and visitors.

Sexual Safety Collaborative - Standards and Guidance

Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust created a benchmarking tool to assess their Trust against the sexual safety standards. You can download their benchmarking template (Excel).

For any questions relating to the standards, please contact the safety improvement team at

QI Programme resources

SSC newsletters

Additional resources

  • The team at Forest Close (Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust) created a sexual safety survey for colleagues across the wards to complete.  The survey, which you can download for use on your own ward, covers how confident staff feel talking about sexual safety, how conversations on sexual safety are initiated and asks staff to share their experience of a recent conversation on sexual safety.  Please feel free to use these questions within your team and adapt the survey to suit your requirements.  Lee Alexander (Improvement Facilitator) has recorded a video to share more about the survey, including how it was created and how the results have guided the next stages of their project.   
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