The present paper describes a research project that is looking at how non-clinical support roles may be more fully integrated into the ward team in an acute hospital setting. The research, funded by NHS Estates, is part of the policy of developing evidence-based support services that is a central strand of NHS modernization. Practice development is a key part of the project design and an action research approach has been adopted to support the development of new ways of integrating both clinical and non-clinical aspects of care within the multidisciplinary ward team. The research is linked to increasing evidence of the importance of team-working, not only for the well-being of healthcare workers but also because of its effect on patient outcomes. The research will make a contribution in this area by focusing on the important relationship between non-clinical and clinical staff. Copyright © 2002 Whurr Publishers Ltd.