Sexual safety on mental health wards

Published: 11 April 2018 Page last updated: 12 May 2022

Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals, lead for mental health, Dr Paul Lelliott has written to specialist mental health NHS trusts in England to inform them of an upcoming workshop to explore what can be done to improve sexual safety on mental health wards and thank trusts for engaging with CQC on this work.

Co-hosted with the National Mental Health Nurse Directors Forum, more than 100 senior staff from NHS mental health trusts are expected to take part.

The letter, sent today (11 April), also outlines the issues around sexual safety on mental health wards that were highlighted in our State of Care in Mental Health Services 2014-17 report. Published in August 2017, the report noted that “a substantial number of services admitted both men and women to the same wards” and that this can lead to “a heightened responsibility to ensure that patients are safe from sexual harassment and sexual violence”.

Following from this, CQC worked with NHS Improvement to examine how specialist mental health NHS trusts in England are reporting patient safety incidents of a sexual nature. This included exploratory analysis of nearly 60,000 reports submitted to National Reporting and Learning System (NRLS) by trusts over a three month period, more than 900 of which were related to sexual incidents on mental health wards.

Following the workshop on 20 April, CQC intends to publish a national briefing later in the year.