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NELFT NHS Foundation Trust provides a range of community health and mental health services across the north east London Boroughs of Barking & Dagenham, Havering, Redbridge, Waltham Forest, Essex and Kent and Medway.

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Routes into NELFT - Sarah Watts

Image of Sarah Watts

Did you know that at NELFT, you can work on the Staff Bank in addition to your substantive role? 

Sarah Watts is doing just that! She currently works substantively as the Personal Assistant (PA) to the Associate Director for Redbridge Children’s Service and has an additional Bank role providing project and admin support for the Associate Director of Workforce Transformation. Read more below about Sarah’s career journey and how she works flexibly. 

Sarah Watts, PA to Assistant Director Redbridge Children’s Services 

I originally began my career working in the private sector where I was a PA to the Managing Director and office manager. Unfortunately, I was made redundant while in this role. As a result, I joined a local temp agency and was placed in NELFT providing administration support. I spent 3 months working bank shifts and was subsequently offered a substantive role. I currently work flexibly, from 9am to 2pm, 5 days a week. 

Why did you choose to work at NELFT? 

Coming to work in the public sector having been in the private sector was a big difference. I have found NELFT to be very caring, supportive, welcoming with great health and wellbeing initiatives and activities to bring colleagues together.  

I wish I had found a role in NELFT earlier in my career, due to the potential to develop yourself, with so many different job opportunities available.   

I enjoy what I do, the level of responsibility I have, and the flexible working offered. Everything! 

Why do you enjoy working additional Bank shifts? 

Working Bank shifts takes you to a completely different side of NELFT. You get to know other people in the Trust and how/why it functions in the way it does. This compliments my substantive role as I gain useful knowledge, and this also supports with my career and personal development. 

I’ve discovered new skills, learnt how to adapt my communication styles and work in different ways. Through constantly learning and being dynamic, it ensures you don’t get complacent, and keeps your work life varied and interesting.  

I enjoy the security that I get having a substantive role, but being able to also work Bank shifts to supplement my income is helpful. The drive for additional work hours through Bank is largely due to the rising cost of living which is affecting most people currently. 

How are you able to combine Bank shifts with your substantive role? 

Over the past 8 years working in my substantive role at NELFT, I have remained enrolled on the Staff Bank at the same time. Most of the duties within my Bank posts are providing administration support on HR cases or short-term projects. 

In the advert for my current long term Bank post, providing support to the Associate Director of Workforce Transformation, I was interested in applying for the role as it complimented my substantive role. The team was new so it was something different where I could learn new skills which would enable me to add value within my substantive team. In addition, the flexible hours outlined in the advert meant I could easily combine the Bank shifts with the hours I had spare.  

My Bank shifts could vary between 3 or 5 hours per week, it depends on the needs of the lead I’m supporting. As I work part time, I have enough hours in the day to be able to accommodate the additional bank hours.  

Flexibility is needed from both sides to make it work– my Bank line manager and I flex hours according to the needs of my substantive role. While my hours are set as 9am – 2pm, if I need to alter these times to be able to attend meetings for either my substantive or bank role, this is possible and both managers are very understanding.  

What advice would you give to anyone considering moving from agency to substantive or Bank?  

Joining the Staff Bank or as a substantive member of staff offers more security. You have access to NHS pensions, sick leave, paid training amongst other benefits, and with substantive you’ll have access to the full NELFT benefits package and the social side of the Trust (creative union, yoga classes etc.). Feeling part of a team is something I really love and NELFT has a great team spirit.  

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