Despite the increase in hospital palliative care teams, there is little research into their impact on symptom control in patients. A nonequivalent control group design, using a quota sample, investigated 100 cancer patients who had been admitted to hospital for symptom control. Fifty patients received hospital palliative care team intervention compared with 50 patients receiving traditional care. Data was collected using the Palliative Care Assessment (PACA) symptom assessment tool on three occasions. Both groups showed a statistically significant improvement in their symptoms. This significance failed to meet the criterion of one point on a four point scale and therefore results have to be interpreted with caution. However the intervention group had a greater improvement in all their symptoms, particularly for the pain and anorexia for which there were no differences between the groups on the initial assessment, there was a statistically greater improvement for the intervention group (P < 0.001). Consecutive patients with cancer admitted to hospital for symptom control during this study improved, but those patients who received specialist palliative care had a significantly greater improvement in their symptoms.