Call Handler

Call Handlers usually work for NHS24 or on a busy switchboard in a hospital or Health Board headquarters. Like Receptionists, Call Handlers are an important first point of contact for patients and their families.

NHSScotland Call Handler

Working as a Call Handler you would need excellent communication skills and a confident telephone manner. Callers you speak to may be anxious or upset, waiting to hear news about a friend or relative, or phoning to check details of an important clinic appointment.

You may also be required to transfer urgent calls between wards and departments as well as incoming calls from healthcare professionals working in the community.

Some Call Handlers carry out additional duties, such as:

  • booking appointments for patients
  • photocopying and filing
  • updating computer records
  • ordering stationery
  • booking patient transport

Useful skills include:

  • IT skills
  • communication skills
  • speaking on the phone
  • customer service skills
  • accuracy and attention to detail
  • good level of plain English, spelling and grammar
  • good time management skills
  • organisational skills

Useful abilities include:

  • tact and discretion
  • the ability to follow instructions and procedures
  • the ability to remain calm in an emergency or challenging situation
  • the ability to work on own initiative
  • the ability to prioritise tasks and workload

Call Handlers are likely to need a good standard of English and Maths. Some customer service experience, telephony skills and basic IT skills are useful to have for this role.

The specific entry requirements will depend on the role. The qualifications asked for may also vary depending on the recruiting NHSScotland Board. You are advised to contact each individual Board to find out its specific entry requirements.

Modern Apprenticeships offer those aged over 16 paid employment with the opportunity to train for jobs at craft, technician and management level.

Modern Apprenticeships in Business and Administration at SCQF Level 6, and Modern Apprenticeships in Management at SCQF Level 7, SCQF Level 9 and SCQF Level 11 are frameworks for people interested in working in business and administration or customer services. Find out more about these Modern Apprenticeships on the Skills Development Scotland (SDS) website:

Healthcare Support (Non-clinical) at SCQF Level 6 and SCQF Level 7 is another framework for people interested in working in a healthcare setting in a non-clinical support role. For more information about this Modern Apprenticeship framework, look at:

Contact your local Board to find out if these Modern Apprenticeships are available in your area.

You will be encouraged to develop your career in NHSScotland and you will be given the training you need for the job including:

  • an introduction to the department and its procedures
  • health and safety
  • risk management

During your career, you may have the opportunity to study for additional qualifications, such as:

Look on the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) website to find the full range of qualifications on offer for staff working in business, administration, IT, finance and medical records.

Career pathways

Gaining new qualifications will help your career prospects, leading to more senior roles with a greater level of responsibility.

It may be possible through further training to progress to a supervisory or even management role. You could also explore other roles, such as a Medical Secretary or Personal Assistant.

Learn more about the NHSScotland Education Pathways for Business and Administration.

Business and Administration staff can join the following organisations:

The Institute of Legal Secretaries & PAs (ILSPA)

ILSPA is professional body for legal secretaries and personal assistants working throughout the UK, providing professional development and courses. Find out more on the ILSPA website.

The Skills Council for Administration (Skills CFA)

Skills CFA is a registered charity promoting skills and qualifications for businesses and those working in business and administration roles. Find out more on the Skills CFA website.

The Institute of Administrative Management (IAM)

IAM is the professional body and UK government-recognised awarding body offering qualifications in Administrative Management. Find out more on the IAM website.