Patient Safety in Mental Health Services

Leads: Dr Kathryn Berzins and Prof John Baker (School of Healthcare, University of Leeds)

Improving patient safety has been a priority in health care for nearly two decades and the subject of a significant body of research and innovation. Contrary to these developments in acute hospital and primary care settings, there has been little comparable research into the identification of safety issues in UK mental health care services despite serious failures in service provision. This is particularly important given that it was a mental health Trust that was the first to be prosecuted post-Francis Report under new powers by the Care Quality Commission for failing to provide safe care and treatment. One crucial aspect of improving patient safety is the potential for involving patients and their families as a resource for increasing safety by providing feedback either during or after their care experience. Patients and families are well positioned to notice things that staff do not and provide an independent perspective based on their experiences of receiving care. Evidence has shown that patients can willingly and meaningfully feed back on the safety of their care. However, research on how to involve patients in interventions to improve safety and whether there are any benefits, is generally thought to be inconclusive.

Through a national survey and interviews, we have been exploring the views and experiences of mental health staff, service user and carers regarding safety in mental health settings, what factors contribute to safety incidents in these settings and understanding what are the priorities for improvement. As a result of this work we have established an expert advisory panel of over 100 carers and service users.

For more information on our work to promote safe, effective and therapeutic mental health care, please visit our site:
  1. Service user and carer involvement in mental health care safety:  
  2. A cross-sectional survey of mental health service users’, carers’ and professionals’ priorities for patient safety in the United Kingdom: