(up to HCPC Registered Podiatrists)
The Foot Health Standards are part of work that aims to increase the supply of podiatrists in the NHS while expanding the role of the support workforce. The Standards will ensure that the NHS recognises the knowledge and skills of the wider foot health support workforce.
The Standards were open to consultation in late 2020. The responses of stakeholders have been used to further develop the Standards and to better understand the issues and challenges around this topic.
The Standards are intended to support the NHS in utilising the full skills mix of the foot health workforce to meet demand, by providing a clear understanding of the footcare treatments that the NHS podiatry support workforce and foot health practitioners can safely perform. The needs and safety of patients is central in this work. Employers and managers can use the Standards to effectively plan, develop, and deploy their support workforce.
From our work with support workers and services across the country, we know there is wide variation in their education and training, and how they are deployed. This work will ensure that:
- Patients and service users have access to skilled and consistently well-trained support workers who have a defined role within their team
- support workers have access to development structures that provide opportunities to follow a richer and more rewarding career pathway
- services can address the current variation in support worker roles, banding and progression
- support worker roles can be at the heart of improvements in service delivery and transformation, including new models of care.
The main objective is to increase the supply into podiatry and ensure that the NHS recognises the knowledge and skills of the support workforce.
How to use the Standards
NHS managers can use the Standards to understand the treatments that different parts of their foot health support workforces can safely deliver. This will support them in ensuring that they have in place workforces with the skills mix they need to care for patients. This will help managers design services to meet increased patient demand.
Education providers can use the Standards to underpin the development of educational pathways into the NHS podiatry support workforce and onto pre-registration education and training programmes in podiatry. This will support the development and growth of the support and podiatrist workforces.
In order to facilitate a greater skill mix within the NHS footcare workforce, Health Education England (HEE) has commissioned the development of threshold clinical and education standards that all newly qualified foot health practitioners (FHPs), foot care assistants (FCAs) and assistant practitioners in podiatry (APs) should meet.
The clinical and education standards provide a clear understanding of the footcare treatments these practitioners are trained to provide upon qualification. The standards are threshold and set out what a newly qualified practitioner can safely provide for their patients in the NHS. It is recognised that as individual practitioners gain experience and undertake additional qualifications, their role boundaries and scope of practice may increase.
Common themes underpin the clinical practice of all levels of practitioner. These include health and wellbeing; person-centred care, treatment, and support; communication; team working; personal, people and quality improvement; health, safety and security; duty of care and candour; safeguarding; equality and diversity; and basic life support.
Educational standards are articulated at Levels 3, 4 and 5 of the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ).
The determination of role boundaries and scope of practice has been informed by the American Society of Anaesthesiologists Physical Status Classification System.
- NHS managers
- Education providers
- Existing practitioners
- Professional Bodies
- Health Regulators
- Patient Representative Bodies
The Standards for the Foot health Workforce (the Standards) were published in September 2021 following an open consultation that ran for 12 weeks. Amendments were made to the Standards following the consultation and the final version of the Standards, alongside the consultation findings, were published in May 2022 and are available to view at the link above.
Following publication of the Standards, four NHS managers groups have provided feedback about the perceived challenges and benefits of the Standards to the NHS podiatry support workforce.
The content of this report is based on feedback received and summarised findings. At the end of the report and in the chapters below, there are recommendations for HEE to consider when planning the next steps.