On-call - Section 2(a) (England) and Annex A3 

Phone on desk


The NHS Staff Council has developed a national framework of principles, which  underpin local negotiations to harmonise arrangements. These principles still allow employers local flexibility to review on-call as part of the Agenda for Change agreement.

As part of a national review which led to the creation of the national principles, the NHS Staff Council analysed information on current on-call arrangements in 25 organisations across the UK, which totalled over 300 separate on-call schemes.  

National principles for on-call

The NHS Staff Council published national principles to support local negotiations on new arrangements for on-call in November 2010. The new arrangements needed to be in place from 1 April 2011.

The 12 principles give a more consistent approach to on-call across the NHS to meet equal pay requirements, whilst still giving organisations the flexibility to meet local needs, see Annex A3 of the NHS terms and conditions of service handbook.

Employers will need to work within existing resources when agreeing any new arrangements for on-call.

Guidance to support local on-call arrangements

The following materials aim to support NHS employers to harmonise on-call arrangements:

  • NHS Staff Council Implementation guidance, this includes the final principles to underpin local negotiations, with supporting guidance 
  • FAQs- these frequently asked questions cover the national review of on-call and local negotiations
  • NHS Staff Council Checklist for data gathering - this paper was published to support the consultation on the principles.  It includes a list of questions to support trusts with their data gathering on current arrangements.  

On-call national data collection (Information note)

This paper provides information about the partnership approach to data collection adopted by the on-call sub-group.  It is important that locally, available data about on-call is shared with trades unions and others involved in local negotiations, from the outset. 

Other useful documents and information

  • NHS Staff Council paper outlining the latest position on harmonised on-call arrangements (March 2011)
  • Pay circular (AforC) 5/2010 - this covers both the on-call principles and lease car arrangements
  • The full report on the national review - this has detailed information about the national review of on-call including the review's remit, an overview of current on-call arrangements and the professions that are covered by on-call 
  • NHS pensions provided information about the pension position for on-call payments for Agenda for Change staff in their Employer Newsletters in December 2010 and March 2011. Employers should contact NHS Pensions for further information

Further information

If you are a member of staff and have a query, please contact your HR team or local trade union representative.

Employer queries should be sent to agendaforchange@nhsemployers.org

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