Patients on intensive care units (ICU) have difficulty with communication [Menzel LK. Factors related to the emotional responses of intubated patients to being unable to speak. Heart Lung 1998; 27(4):245-52]. Feelings of anger and low mood have been reported, which can lead to reduced participation in rehabilitation. For members of the multidisciplinary team breakdown in communication with patients may be frustrating and related to a limited knowledge of strategies and resources to facilitate communication. The NHS Modernisation Agency Critical Care Programme (2002) identified speech and language therapists (SLTs) as having a role in the assessment and management of patients with communication difficulties on ICU. This multi-centre pilot study aimed to investigate staff and patient perceptions and experiences of communication within ICUs. A short questionnaire was devised using semi-structured interviews to collect quantitative and qualitative information. Patterns were identified including insights into SLT service delivery and possible directions for future research and development.