Objectives.: To establish a national picture of the implementation of these recommendations in both trusts and higher education institutions. Background.: The Chief Nursing Officer for England Review of Mental Health Nursing made 17 key recommendations to improve mental health nursing. Subsequent publications aimed to help implement these recommendations. Design.: An e-survey. Methods.: The survey was based on the Chief Nursing Officer review recommendations and guidance. Participants: all relevant trusts who deliver mental health services (n = 68) and higher education institutions who deliver pre-registration mental health nursing education (n = 50) in England. Results.: A total of 42 trusts (63·6%) and 40 higher education institutions (80%) completed the survey. The survey indicates that the Chief Nursing Officer review has stimulated some activity in all organisations who responded. Eleven of the recommendations were ranked similarly by trusts and higher education institutions. There were statistically significant differences between trusts and higher education institution priorities in four areas, inpatient care, evidence-based interventions, multidisciplinary team working and recruitment and retention. Conclusions.: The findings of the survey demonstrate that all organisations have made some progress in the implementation of the Chief Nursing Officer recommendations. Trusts and higher education institutions broadly agree on the importance of each of the Chief Nursing Officer recommendations, with the exception of four items. A range of factors was identified by respondents that were perceived as facilitators and barriers to the implementation of the Chief Nursing Officer review. Relevance to clinical practice.: This article contains findings that are highly relevant for current and future clinical practice in mental health. Despite some progress, clear differences between higher education institutions and trusts are apparent. It is important that these differing perspectives are acknowledged and resolved to improve healthcare provision. Both trusts and higher education institutions reported difficulty with engaging service users and carers. A range of factors are identified that act as facilitators and barriers to the implementation of healthcare policy. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.