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In this paper the technological, demographic, social and disease-pattern changes in British society are considered and their implications for the nursing and health services discussed.

The influences of major nursing reports as well as the consequences of the growth of professionalism in nursing and the potential outcome of the spread of political consciousness among nurses are also highlighted.

Nurses are admonished to come to terms with the ‘real’ diseases of today; those resulting from affluence and senescence.

Although conceding that nurses have unique and professional roles, a plea is made for the importance of good team work in health care.

The paper ends with the recognition that by building up the body of knowledge of nursing, not only will the planning of nursing care be enhanced but also the ability to change as the needs of society change.