Sexual Orientation Monitoring Standard introduced

The National LGB&T Partnership welcomes new sexual orientation monitoring as game changer towards better LGB health and social care services

The National LGB&T Partnership has welcomed the launch of a newly published NHS Information Standard for sexual orientation monitoring as a significant game changer in the future health and social care provision for lesbian, gay and bisexual people (LGB) in England.

Released by NHS Digital today (5th October 2017), it aims to better meet the needs of LGB people through improved data collection. The new standard will provide a mechanism for recording the sexual orientation of all patients and service users aged 16 years and over across all health services and Local Authority social care providers in England.

The Standard was commissioned by NHS England and developed by LGBT Foundation working with NHS Digital, the Department of Health, Public Health England and a cross-system group with representation from leaders across health and social care as well as organisations representing the workforce. It also involved an extensive consultation with organisations across the health and social care system, service users and the public.

Research by LGBT Foundation has shown that LGB people are disproportionately affected by a range of health inequalities and experience significant barriers to accessing health and care services.1

  • LGB people are twice as likely as the general population to commit suicide.
  • LGB people are seven times more likely to use drugs, twice as likely to binge drink, and show higher levels of substance dependency compared to their heterosexual peers.
  • LGB people are more likely to experience many cancer risk factors including stress, smoking, problematic alcohol use and poorer diet and exercise.
  • LGB people are less likely to access mainstream health services, including cancer screening.
  • LGB people are more likely to rate their experiences of health and care services as poor, and fear that they will suffer unequal treatment as an LGB person.

The research also pinpointed the better sexual orientation monitoring as a vital step towards addressing these specific health inequalities and improving access to care.

The sexual orientation Information Standard sets out a consistent question and answer options for recording this data:

Which of the following options best describes how you think of yourself?

  1. Heterosexual or Straight
  2. Gay or Lesbian
  3. Bisexual
  4. Other sexual orientation not listed
  5. Person asked and does not know or is not sure
  6. Not stated (person asked but declined to provide a response)
  7. Not known (not recorded)

Research has shown that between 90-95% of people are happy to be asked this question, as long as they understood why it was being collected, and that it is similar in terms of public acceptability to collecting demographic data on religion, a question which is now commonplace on demographic forms. 2,3

Commenting on today’s launch, Paul Martin, Chair of The National LGB&T Partnership said:

“The Partnership is thrilled to see the sexual orientation monitoring standard go live today. This issue has been a key focus for the Partnership for years, as much of the work we want to do with LGB communities has been limited by the lack of evidence around need.

Today’s launch is a significant step in the right direction towards addressing LGB health inequalities.”



If you would like more information on sexual orientation monitoring, please visit or email



3 Office for National Statistics, July 2017, Sexual Identity: update on research and testing, Census Roadshows. Available at: