Our main objective is to increase the supply into podiatry and also ensure that the NHS recognises the knowledge and skills of the non-regulated workforce.
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.
The Foot Health Education and Training Standards are the result of a year’s work to increase the supply of podiatrists in the NHS, while expanding the role of the support workforce within the NHS. The Standards will ensure that the NHS recognises the knowledge and skills of the wider foot care support workforce.
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 foot health practitioners and the podiatry support workforce can safely perform. The needs and safety of patients is central in this work.
Hearing the views and engaging widely with stakeholders and those individuals interested in the work is useful to further develop the Standards and better understand the issues and challenges around this topic.
HEE has developed a draft set of standards for the foot health practitioner and podiatry support workforce. HEE had an open consultation from Monday 23 November 2020 until midday Monday 15 February 2021 - this consultation is now closed.
Podiatrists are trained to assess, diagnose, treat, prevent and rehabilitate complications of the feet, ankles and associated structures.
The health workforce is caring for an increasingly ageing population, people are living longer and experiencing multi-medical conditions. We are seeing an increase in the demand for podiatry services, however, there has been a significant drop in the number of people applying to enter podiatry pre-registration programmes. With more than 50 per cent of the regulated podiatry workforce employed in the private sector, we are facing a challenge to adequately supply enough newly qualified podiatrists to match current and future demand.
Health Education England (HEE) is working with partner organisations to ensure there is a sustained supply of regulated podiatrists to support the care of patients in the NHS who need their services. The partner organisations have come together, with HEE, to form the Foot Health Consortium (FHC), they are:
- The College of Podiatry
- The Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists
- The SMAE Institute
These leaders will support the development of a nationally agreed set of standards for the foot health practitioner and the podiatry support workforce. To do this, a Foot Health Education and Training Standards Group, and a Standards Writing Group have been established. Members of these groups include professional body representatives, educators, clinical managers, clinical practitioners, foot health practitioners and assistant practitioners in podiatry.
On March 24 HEE held a webinar on Developing the Future Podiatry Workforce.
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.
- Welcome – Steve Jamieson, CEO, The College of Podiatry
- Setting the Scene – Where are we now? A national overview of the HEE sponsored developments – Beverley Harden, Lead AHP Health Education England
- Podiatry workforce data – Thomas Speller, Deputy Head of Workforce Planning, Health Education England
- Health Education England/The College of Podiatry - Workforce Development Programme – Professor Mary Lovegrove OBE, Allied Health Solutions, podiatry workforce project lead
- Foot Health Education and Training Standards Development – Andrew Hill, Clinical Services Manager and Programme Leader, SMAE Institute
Developing and embedding private practice placements in podiatry – Dr Beverley Durrant, Project Manager Practice-Based Student Learning, Prosthetics and Orthotics and Podiatry Placements
*Please note - the sound quality in parts of the webinar is quite poor. If you require further information please contact Jane.Gardner-Florenc@hee.nhs.uk