The findings of a pilot telephone survey of senior nurses' views of multidisciplinary teamwork (MDT) practice in 26 acute psychiatric admission wards within the ambit of one English health authority are reported. The survey was conducted in two stages. The first stage focused on obtaining the senior nurse's general perceptions of the organization of the work of the multidisciplinary team, and in the second stage more detailed responses to the original questions were obtained. The findings suggest that the composition and operations of the acute ward team are limited, and the relationship between the MDT and patients and their families do not entirely support the concept of increased collaboration with patients and their families. The findings are discussed within the context of the perceived crisis in acute psychiatric care in England and the ambitions for more egalitarian 'mental health' services.