One of the most basic understandings of nursing is that a nurse is a caregiver for a patient who helps to prevent illness, treat health conditions, and manage the physical needs of patients. Nursing is often presented as a caring profession, which provides patient care driven by ideals of empathy, compassion and kindness. These ideals of care have further been foregrounded through the development and implementation of stress on patient centred care (PCC) and/or person-centred practice (PCP). Although the idealisation of nursing as a caring profession is common, and one certainly seen as integral by nurses and written into the heart of regulatory documentation, we contend that the actual delivery of care is being undercut by the very regulatory climate that strives to professionalise care. As we outline, with specific reference to the context of Australian Nursing, this transformation delivers a commodified, even McDonaldized, model of patient management rather than care. It seems that even with its explicit stress on PCC and PCP, Australian Nursing cannot live up to its own care ideals. Having outlined this problem, the paper then demonstrates the ways in which PCC is thwarted at the coal face of nursing practice and that there must be an institutionalised change to be able to provide genuine patient-centred care. © 2022 The Authors. Nursing Inquiry published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.