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Future-proofing the Foot Health workforce

22 July 2020

The Foot Health Consortium is a collaboration of six organisations from the foot health sector with a combined goal of ensuring there is a sustained supply of the foot health workforce that meets the need of the population, now and for the future. Alongside Health Education England, the partner organisations are:

- Canonbury

- OSGO

- The College of Podiatry

- The Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists

- The SMAE Institute

The Foot Health Consortium, an initiative by Health Education England, has for the first time in many years managed to get all parties involved in providing Foot Health and Foot Health Education around the table. The common goal of this getting together being the awareness of a lack of possible future throughput of suitably qualified practitioners whether that be in most elementary cosmetic care if not advanced podiatric procedures. Now!! The time is right and it is reassuring that we have one common goal. Hans Bakker, Canonbury 

We feel that there are several key challenges facing the foot health sector currently. We hear regularly from members expressing concerns about the reducing supply pipeline of podiatry graduates, the lack of access in some regions to effective multi-disciplinary foot and lower limb teams and the ageing workforce, many of whom are moving to positions outside of the NHS. This ultimately means that Podiatry is limited in its ability to offer the full range of practice that can make such a difference to the lives of our NHS service users and their families.

If the consortium can work effectively to raise public awareness about foot and lower limb health and the massive value of Podiatry in contributing to the prevention and management of several increasingly common long term conditions, identifying the key role that Podiatrists can play in coordinating lower limb services, this will help to drive more applications to our training programmes and increase our workforce and their capacity, then collaboratively we will be able to deliver the foot and lower limb health needs of the population. Steve Jamieson, Chief Executive and General Secretary, The College of Podiatry

The Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists welcomes this seminal initiative. Over many decades of involvement with the profession I have seen various proposals that could have literally revolutionised our area of Healthcare fail to come to fruition for lack of widespread support. In contrast, this current concerted effort by a collaborative body of principal stakeholders in Podiatry and Foothealth under the inspired leadership of Health Education England will, I am convinced, set the seeds for the emergence of a newly invigorated and high-quality diverse yet inclusive profession. Martin Harvey, Podiatrist Independent Prescriber, Chair, Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists.

Our shared goal is to improve the future prospects for the Podiatry and Foot Health Professions by finding ways to increase the numbers of Podiatrists within England (and the rest of the UK) and standardise the education standards within the Foot Health Practitioner sector. Together, this provides a real chance to increase the provision of foot health care to the population which will be of immense benefit to the service users of foot health care services. The public having safe and timely access to highly effective care is a passion we all share. Andrew Hill, Clinical Services Manager & Programme Leader, The SMAE Institute

The public’s foot health is reliant upon the delivery of care and advice that is drawn from a sector that has a number of organisations involved. Each of these organisations work towards creating an optimal environment for the delivery of these important services, and the challenges facing the workforce therefore also impact the future of the full cross section of the sector. If we are to address the identified problems facing the workforce we believe that a collaborative approach will allow us to share diverse experience and be able to effectively communicate with the workforce as the work progresses.

We recognise that the individual experiences and the diversity of the workforce need to be understood so that future planning can effectively meet the challenges that are often unknown. A collaborative approach is essential to fully understand current issues and identify potential solutions to the challenges. Tony Gavin, Director, OSGO 

By working and collaborating with our partners from across the sector on standards of education and training – our offer to the public is quick and consistent access to all levels of foot care and lower limb health care. Keeping them active, mobile and independent for years to come. Beverley Harden, Allied Health Professions Lead, Health Education England

We would like to invite you to watch the webinar broadcast from the 24 March and afterwards complete the survey which you can access from the link below - thank you in anticipation.

On March 24 HEE held a webinar on Developing the Future Podiatry Workforce.

You can access the webinar here.

The webinar was delivered to provide a platform for invited participants, from service provider organisations (NHS and private sector) and education providers, to discuss the challenges around podiatry workforce supply.

Webinar survey - open until 31 July 2020

HEE is keen to capture views from across the foot health sector about sustaining the podiatry workforce supply. To enable us to do this we have created a simple survey based on the webinar for you to complete.

You can access the survey here.

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