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CareersApr 25, 2024

Come and work with us at NELFT, says Chris Tuckett, physiotherapist and clinical director of AHPs

NELFT (North East London NHS Foundation Trust) provides an extensive range of integrated community and mental health services. These are delivered to people living in the east London boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Redbridge and Waltham Forest. We also offer community health services to people living in the south west Essex areas of Basildon, Brentwood and Thurrock. 

The trust provides an emotional wellbeing mental health service for children and young people across the whole county of Essex. We are the provider of all age eating disorder services and child and adolescent mental health services across Kent and Medway. With an annual budget of £490 million, we provide care and treatment for a population of about 4.3 million.

We employ approximately 7,500 staff who work across 210 bases in London, Essex, Kent and Medway. There are about 200 physiotherapists across the specialities of paediatrics, adult physical health, learning disabilities and mental health.

Photo Credit: NELFT
Chris Tuckett provides clinical and professional leadership to about 800 AHPs at NELFT


Chris, tell us about your own role at the trust and how that’s evolved from when you started?

I am the clinical director of allied health professions, a role that involves providing clinical and professional leadership to some 800 allied health professionals (AHPs) at NELFT. The role has evolved over the years and focuses solely on AHPs, whereas previously it also incorporated aspects of leadership for the quality improvement team and the psychological professions too. They now have dedicated leadership now which allows my role to centre on AHPs full-time. I believe this reflects the value NELFT places on the AHP professions as it realises that recovery and rehabilitation are key when seeking to deliver good quality healthcare.

Day to day my role seeks to represent the thoughts, values and priorities of my AHP colleagues, to ensure they are able to recruit and retain staff, have the facilities and resources they require and can reach out for professional or clinical guidance when needed. As a physiotherapist by background, representing 10 different professions can be a challenge. But I have an excellent AHP leadership team alongside me and across NELFT that can provide speciality knowledge and skills when called upon.

Why should recent graduates apply for a vacancy?

Recent graduates should consider applying to work at NELFT because we offer so much variety. The trust covers paediatrics and adult -- both the physical and mental health aspects. We also have inpatient and community services. As such, new graduates will have many chances to gain wide experience develop a broad base of expertise.

As a new starter, you will receive a two-week induction period through a combination of online and physical events. This provides a non-pressured welcome to NELFT and ensures you have all you need equipment wise before starting work for real. It also gives you an opportunity to meet your team and become familiar with your working base before the clinical role begins.

We have an active preceptorship programme with a dedicated AHP preceptorship lead who is always seeking to ensure this represents the needs of AHPs who enrol. The programme was recently awarded the Capital AHP preceptorship quality mark.

We also have AHP leads focused on our AHP workforce development and advanced clinical practice to ensure new graduates who join NELFT have opportunities to begin planning their career progression with us too.

NELFT is an attractive option as it offers easy access to central London while also reaching out to lovely rural parts of Essex and Kent. Good transport links means there’s a lot of choice over where you’d like to live and commute to work. We have a well-developed staff benefit offer, which includes great value EV lease vehicles, and we are very supportive of flexible working.

What about experienced physiotherapists?

Experienced physiotherapists or those seeking to return to practice are strongly encouraged to consider NELFT due to its breadth and depth of services. We have a very well-funded continuing professional development department, which has been protected for several years now meaning self-development is keenly supported.

We have an active AHP staff-body with regular professional forums, newsletter, annual conferences, and networks. The trust also has a huge number of AHPs in senior operational and clinical roles.

What's the local area like to live in? 

Being so close to London allows NELFT staff to easily and quickly sample all the capital city has to offer, with underground stations near to many of our working sites facilitating quick journeys into London. We also benefit from easy access to Essex, which has a huge variety of places to visit and enjoy a day out, and similarly easy access to Kent, which is referred to as the ‘garden of England’.

Meet Pippa Ward, who offers some personal reflections on her career development at NELFT 

 Job title: 'I am an assistant director children and regional services and a physiotherapist.'

Career pathway: 'I started as band 5 physiotherapist  before moving to a paediatrics band 6 to band 7 post  and then became a clinical lead physio. Next step: and 8A – therapies team lead – and I'm now acting director of children’s specialist services across four London boroughs.'

What stands out?

  • ‘early access to skilled therapists improves the outcomes for children, families and adults and makes a huge difference to promoting independence’
  • ‘continuing and changing technology especially in prosthetics'
  • ‘the difference communication assessments make in the youth justice service’

Can you offer any career tips?  

‘You have the skills that can be applied to many roles – don’t limit yourself and you can be a leader in any role you are in.’

Currently working on?

‘Loving the opportunity to work with AHPs across specialisms and to see the innovative practice and being able to support staff to implement their ideas.'

‘This role provides opportunity driving the integration of physical therapies and mental health teams, universal services and working with partner agencies – co-production with young people.’

And finally, Chris, how can readers keep abreast of any vacancies?

  • You can keep in touch by visiting NELFT careers
  • Or follow us on X (Twitter): @NELFTCareers and @NELFT_AHP
  • LinkedIn  
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