17th April 2020
Dear Ministers and Professional Regulators
An open letter
Podiatry – A caring profession in the shadows
I write further to my previous letter highlighting that whilst we as a profession applaud the wonderful selfless efforts of front-line staff in other areas of health care fighting the current dreadful disease, podiatry faces major challenges both now and for the future that could if unchecked irreversibly damage our profession and the care that we give to millions of UK citizens.
In addition to some NHS podiatry care, more than 50% of podiatry treatments are delivered in the private sector by private clinics, including some of the most advanced therapies for treating the feet and associated structures as well as the specialist care that we give to the feet of people with diabetes, infections, damaged joints etc plus routine foot care to maintain the foot health of millions of elderly and vulnerable people and therefore their mobility and consequently their general health and quality of life.
I must point out there is now a real danger that the private sector especially may find its businesses destroyed due to lack of support and resources, and therefore our ability to care reduced beyond a level of sustainability which could mean millions of new cases being presented to the NHS.
Let me be clear, I am not talking about just trimming nails and digging out the odd corn which is still a perception of what we do amongst certain other sectors of healthcare about Chiropody/Podiatry (although that is also essential if you cannot do it yourself) but diabetic amputations being necessary because routine regular specialist care has not been given, unchecked osteomyelitis developing and potentially killing people for the simple lack of a foot wound being knowledgably cared for and treated by a podiatrist and so many other specialist tasks that our profession quietly performs day in and day out.
I have been receiving reports from private practitioners of their total inability to source PPE, of local councils treating private clinics less well than local non-health related retail shops for grants and rates relief and other instances of inequality and recognition too frequent to mention. As for any prospect whatsoever of CV-19 testing for the private (and indeed NHS) podiatry workforce, I am not aware of any mention of this being suggested and neither is my organisation as one of the UK’s oldest professional Podiatry/Chiropody bodies.
I would request that as a matter of the most extreme urgency you reach out to UK podiatry and give us, or at least facilitate supply of, the tools, support and recognition to do our job. If private clinics fail then the resultant overload could destroy any semblance of ability to cope by either our NHS colleagues or by other area’s of medicine who are neither trained, qualified or equipped to perform our specialist care.
Yours In Hope
Martin Harvey, FPodM, PGC, BSc
HCPC Registered Podiatrist Independent Prescriber
Chair of Executive Council, Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists