It sounds like you need to be looking at multi level numbering. http://www.grainge.org/pages/authoring/rh_tour/index.htm
There have been some reports of problems so I would suggest you back up before you start. I would also suggest you learn how to play with this feature in a new project with just a few topics imported from your live project.
See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips
Many Thanks Peter.
For anyone else's benefit, what I decided to do was to create new styles to use from now on. These use the new list for autonumbering features available in RH8. See Peters website detailed above...
Much to my delight, using this I can now have some stepped instructions with some screens or consequences text in between with out losing the numbering sequence. This is now much more in the style of Framemaker and is a very, very welcome improvement.
By happy coincidence I'm creating a new help system and so will be able to utilise this going forward. I'm not however going to change our legacy help systems as they're too large and by creating new para styles I should eliminate corrupting material formatted using the previous system. Should I have to update a legacy topic I could then apply the new styles without adverse effect.