THIS ISSUE CONTAINS papers that consider some of the complex issues within human resource management (HRM) in health care. In health systems the care provided has tended to be craftbased production ? a trained health professional provides his or her craft for individual patients, with little need for management. Influencing the relationship between practitioner and patient has been limited by professional autonomy and the different cultures that exist among the specialised health professional groups. These differences are illustrated by Perkins et al by the results of a survey of starting and finishing undergraduate medical, nursing and pharmacy students (page 252).