To read this content please select one of the options below:

Patients' complaints at a large psychiatric hospital: can they lead to better patient services?

Camilla Haw (St Andrew's Healthcare, Northampton, UK)
Jeanette Collyer (St Andrew's Healthcare, Northampton, UK)
Philip Sugarman (St Andrew's Healthcare, Northampton, UK)

International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance

ISSN: 0952-6862

Article publication date: 4 May 2010




Little is known about complaints made by psychiatric patients. The aim of this study is to analyse complaints made by, or behalf of, inpatients at a large independent psychiatric hospital.


The hospital's complaints register was used to identify and study complaints made during 2006. A descriptive analysis was performed.


Of the 392 complaints, 39 per cent related to staff behaviour, 26 per cent to clinical matters, 18 per cent to the behaviour of other patients and the remaining 16 per cent to the physical environment and facilities. Action as a result of complaints was mainly taken at unit level but in 9 per cent of cases organisation‐wide improvements were made, for example to enrich patient treatment programmes, rectify staff shortages and improve the quality of meals.

Research limitations/implications

The study took place in a specialist hospital and so the findings cannot be generalised to the wider NHS. Important differences exist between complaints made in psychiatric as opposed to general hospital settings.

Practical implications

Complaints are a valuable source of organisational learning for mental health services.


Given the paucity of literature on complaints in psychiatry, this study describes some in detail the nature of patients' complaints and one organisation's actions to improve patient services as a result of these complaints.



Haw, C., Collyer, J. and Sugarman, P. (2010), "Patients' complaints at a large psychiatric hospital: can they lead to better patient services?", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 23 No. 4, pp. 400-409.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles