A discussion of the increased use of ‘casual’ nursing staff (those nurses employed on a casual or ‘per diem’ basis) is presented. Reference is made to related literature, together with consideration of the implications associated with this trend. This issue has international significance, with the increased use of casual staff being widely recognised. A New Zealand perspective is included, with the provision of nursing care at Christchurch Hospital presented to illustrate certain aspects of the discussion. The impact of changing health-care systems and increased emphasis on efficiency and accountability are identified. This change to workplace practice will inevitably affect nursing; possible future developments are considered.