Employers and unions have agreed a set of principles they say will lead to a fairer system of on-call payments for nurses.
Current on-call payment arrangements, which unions have criticised for being inconsistent, are due to end on 31 March. NHS organisations are set to begin negotiations with local union representatives on new agreements over the next few months.
The NHS Staff Council – which negotiates terms and conditions for NHS staff – has published a set of 12 national principles to underpin local talks, which it hopes will make on-call pay and arrangements “more consistent, equitable and adaptable to local needs”.
The principles cover equal pay, travel to work and frequency of travel. For example, it says “schemes agreed by local partnerships should provide consistent payments to staff at the same pay band available at the same on-call frequency”.
The principles represent the final part of the Agenda for Change national pay and conditions framework which was introduced in 2004.
NHS Staff Council chair and Unison head of health Karen Jennings said the principles were a balance between providing top-down guidance and including flexibility to agree arrangements that best met local needs.
She said: “There is still lots of work to do to implement this, but the principles put us in the best place for ensuring that future arrangements are based on the core values of fairness and equality.”