This paper makes the case for revisiting our understanding and valuing of basic or fundamental nursing care. Despite the interest in movements such as the person-centred or patient-centred care agenda, there continues to be concern about patient safety, quality of experience and getting the simple things right. Part of this debate is around whether meeting patients' fundamental care needs (such as personal hygiene, elimination and eating and drinking) within acute care settings constitutes legitimate nursing responsibilities or whether these needs ought to become part of "hotel services" executed by care assistants with elementary training or, as in many lower-income health systems, undertaken by relatives.