STATEMENT ON PODIATRIC SURGEONS
Podiatrists are clinically autonomous practitioners who are qualified in the diagnosis and treatment of pathology of the foot and associated structures without oversight from the medical profession.
The profession of podiatric surgery has been established in the UK for more than 30 years with over 40 Consultant Podiatric Surgeons appointed by consultant panels within the National Health Service.
Podiatric surgeons are specialist foot surgeons who have trained exclusively for up to 12 years in the surgical and non-surgical treatment of the foot and associated structures. All podiatric surgeons are registered by statute by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and make clear in writing that they are specialists and not registered medical practitioners. Podiatric surgeons always define their speciality and never use the title ‘surgeon’ without the descriptor ‘podiatric’. Any claim by any organisation that this is not the case is therefore mischievous and deliberately misleading.
The intensive training in treating the foot by podiatric surgeons has resulted in the development of highly skilled and meticulous surgical techniques which are frequently carried out under local anaesthetic. By contrast, orthopaedic surgeons complete a medical degree before going on to further training in the management of bone and joint conditions which affect the whole body but they do not exclusively treat the foot, which requires specialised knowledge.
Podiatrists undergo a three or four year university training leading to a BSc(Hons) degree award in podiatric medicine Those graduates wishing to become podiatric surgeons must undergo a minimum 2 year post registration period of continual professional development before commencing a Master’s degree course in the Theory of Podiatric Surgery. This course is validated by the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh. After successful completion, candidates may apply for a surgical training post which, when completed results in a practical examination of a comprehensive range of foot surgery.
Successful candidates may then apply for NHS Specialist Registrar posts to further develop their podiatric surgical experience. The Specialist Registrar posts normally extend to 3 years or more and upon successful completion entitle the podiatric surgeon to apply for NHS Consultant Podiatric surgeon posts.
The highest standards of clinical governance are observed throughout training and all podiatric surgeons are required to carry out continual audit. Peer review takes place on an annual basis and practical skills are subject to quinquennial review. This is not the case with all surgical specialties.
Consultant podiatric surgeons are recognised by the Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists who will arrange indemnity insurance accordingly.