The role of nursing staff in a liaison consultative unit is by no means established in this country although precedents exist in the United States. Nevertheless, there are clear theoretical reasons for including psychiatric nurses in the liaison team. This report concerns a model of intervention based on one of three models identified in the US studies. the model involves a collaborative/consultative relationship between the psychiatric nurse and the psychiatrist, therefore maximising opportunities for successful intervention and cross-referral. Two clinical vignettes illustrate this. the clinical presentations of 200 patients presenting primarily to the nurse specialist are compared with 200 presenting to the psychiatric department. the patterns of referrals and also the agencies referring differed. the differences in those profiles, together with the management implications, are discussed. High stress areas of nursing, such as cardiology, neurosurgery and haematology, provided a fertile area for referrals to the nurse where referrals to the psychiatrists had not been high.