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NELFT celebrates National Careers Week 2024 with nurses in the Eating Disorder Service

National Careers week 4-9 march, photos of Sarah and Antonia, blue background, NELFT logos

This National Careers Week, North East London NHS Foundation Trust is spotlighting some of the career options available within nursing.

The Trust spoke to nurses who work in the Eating Disorder Service which operates across North East London, Essex, Kent and Medway and has a variety of professional groups working collaboratively to support patients.

Antonia Marshall is a senior specialist nurse within the Kent all age eating disorder service and has been at NELFT for over one year. The multi-disciplinary service provide therapy to people with an eating disorder diagnosis. Nurses, CBT Therapists, Psychologists, Dietitians, and other clinicians work closely on a care plan to support patients.

How did you begin your career?

Growing up I had a friend who had an eating disorder, so I was exposed to this at a young age and my interest in it was formed from then on.

I originally completed my university degree in Psychology but then quickly realised that I wanted to be a mental health nurse. I went back to university to complete a nursing master’s degree. Upon completion, I started my first job as a qualified mental health nurse within eating disorders.

Tell us about a time when you felt your work made a real difference to a patient?

I worked closely with a patient who had an eating disorder and mental health issues. They had dreams of starting a family but never thought it would be possible. A year later, I received a call that the patient was expecting a child, and this was one of the happiest moments in my career as I had an input in getting them to a better place. The patient even named their child after one of the doctors on the ward which was lovely.

What advice would you give to a young person considering a nursing career?

Don’t be scared to apply for specialist roles as a newly qualified nurse. You won’t be restricting yourself by not starting your career in a generalist role. So long as you have a passion for that specialism, like I did with eating disorders, then go for it.

Sarah O’Reilly is a senior clinical nurse specialist and has been with NELFT for 8 years within the all-age eating disorder service, specifically supporting adults across Barking & Dagenham, Havering, Redbridge and Waltham Forest. Through a collaborative with Barnet, Enfield and Harringay Mental Health NHS Trust and Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, the team also support patients that require hospital admission.

What does a typical day look like for you?

It really depends on the day as no day is the same. After a morning team meeting, I might have a review appointment with a patient where I’ll do physical health checks and discuss their care plan, a dietician might also join to review their meal plan. As a multi-disciplinary team, we have frequent meetings to present assessments from the week, diagnoses, and care plans, looking at those that are high-risk. We work in a hybrid approach, so I’ll either see patients in clinics or during a virtual appointment if a physical health assessment isn’t required. This has really helped with my work-life balance.

What is the most rewarding part of your role?

Hearing the small changes that people tell you about during their journey, things they might not have thought they’d be able to do. It’s these small things that gradually build up to them having a fuller life. Seeing people leave the service in a better place than how they arrived is really rewarding.

Has your nursing career been what you expected?

Yes and no. The role is so much more than it used to be and has continued to evolve. From a mental health nurse perspective, I’ve had more experience in physical health than I expected with a lot of training opportunities.

If you are looking for more information on routes into NELFT, visit

If you would like more information on how to start your career in nursing, visit the NHS Careers website.

More information on the Eating Disorder Service at NELFT can be found on the pages below:

London: Eating Disorder Service (EDS) | NELFT NHS Foundation Trust

Kent: Eating disorders service-Kent and Medway- NELFT NHS Foundation Trust | NELFT NHS Foundation Trust



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