In this paper we report findings of a 1999 nationally representative survey of independent hospices in the UK, focusing on hospice staff and volunteers' experiences of working in hospices. Nineteen of 25 sampled services participated, and these differed little in terms of service provision, size and region from the total sample of 175 services. A response rate of 70% for randomly sampled hospice staff and volunteers was achieved (n = 504). There were significant intergroup differences (doctors, nurses, nursing auxiliaries, other staff and volunteers) in participants' reported experience of working in the hospice with, for example, doctors being more likely than other groups to feel appreciated and to report receiving adequate support from hospice management. Overall, 31% of respondents wanted more support from management. Half had considered leaving the hospice (65% nurses, 60% other staff, 55% nursing auxiliaries, 40% doctors and 37% volunteers). Nurses who had considered leaving were less satisfied than other nurses with, for example, support from hospice management, and less likely to feel valued by the hospice. These results raise questions about the quality of the relationship between hospice trustees, managers and staff, and about the realities of enhancing multiprofessional teamwork in organizations where there are significant differences between staff groups in perception of, and satisfaction with, the working environment. Voluntary hospice trustees and managers face a difficult task in managing and supporting staff whilst also negotiating relationships with the NHS at a time of rapid change, and ensuring hospices' financial viability. Access to high quality leadership programmes may play an important role in ensuring voluntary hospices are characterized by effective, supportive working relationships.