NELFT celebrated its 10th anniversary on Friday 1 June. The organisation had previously been called NELMHT (North East London Mental Health Trust) before obtaining Foundation Trust status in 2008. NELMHT was formed in 2001, when the mental health services that had previously been provided by several other NHS organisations were combined into one specialist mental health trust.
NELFT has grown since its creation and now has services covering four London boroughs, Essex and Kent – serving a population of around 4.3 million people. The Trust employs around 6,000 staff, across 210 sites and has an annual turnover of around £350million.
NELFT also employs around 2,000 nurses and the nursing group is the largest division in the organisation. To coincide with the 10th anniversary, we spoke to a NELFT nurse, Claire Newman, who joined the organisation a day after it was formed and has worked her way up through the ranks.
What was your first role with the organisation? Can you tell us a little about your progression through the ranks and about your current role?
I started working for the Trust on 2nd June 2008 as a band 3 healthcare assistant. My first role was working with the community matrons focusing on admission avoidance. The aim was to case manage a virtual ward of patients who frequently call ambulances and attend Accident and Emergency due to multiple long-term conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). I was given extensive support and training to enable me to carry out this role, which not only gave me good clinical skills it also taught me some basic anatomy and physiology theory.
An exciting new role became available within the heart failure service to work with the specialist nurses as their healthcare assistant, helping to manage a large caseload of patients supporting the nurses covering the whole of Essex area. I was able to develop this role and gain further knowledge and clinical skills.
In February 2014, a notice was published on the NELFT Bulletin for an opportunity for healthcare assistants to apply for a secondment to do their nurse training with the support of their manager. After passing many of the hurdles, I was lucky enough to be offered the amazing opportunity to commence my adult nursing degree at London South Bank University. I started my degree in September 2014 and successfully completed it in 2017 - with a first class honours degree. I applied for a vacancy within the Rapid Response Assessment service in Thurrock and have been working as a Rapid Response Nurse since September 2017.
You’ve been with NELFT throughout its 10 years – what are the main differences you have seen in the Trust?
I have noticed a big change in the three years of my absence from NELFT.
It now feels more cohesive between areas and I think that there is more positivity between teams and staff in general. The Trust has grown and is far bigger - but it still feels like a work family to me.
You’ve also recently lost over 5 stone in weight – what was the motivation for that and how did you do it?
I became very unhealthy during my studies, focusing on placements and assignments and gained a lot of weight. On the first day of my new role as a band 5 nurse, I decided to get fit and healthy. I started eating well and joined my local gym and have managed to lose five stone and I now exercise regularly. I am the healthiest I have ever been and feel I am in a much better position to give health and wellbeing advice to patients.
You have risen through the ranks with NELFT during the Trust’s first 10 years – where would like to be in another 10 years?
In the future, I would like to teach more as I really enjoy teaching others. I am not necessarily concerned with rising further through the ranks, although I feel this may be a natural progression for me as it has been so far. My goal was to complete my nurse training before I turned 40 - which will be on the 16th June 2018. It would be great to have completed a Masters before my 50th birthday and to be a very accomplished and skilled NELFT nurse.
Thanks to Claire for taking the time to speak to us.