Open Letter to: The Rt Hon Matt Hancock, MP; Edward Argar, MP; Jo Churchill, MP; Helen Whately, MP; Nadine Dorries, MP; John Barwick, Chief Executive, HCPC; Christine Elliott, Chair HCPC; Suzanne Rastrick, Chief Allied Health Professions Officer, NHS England; Beverley Harden, Health Education England
May I first express the hope that you and your family are keeping well in this challenging time.
I am writing on behalf of the membership of the Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, but this is a matter that must be of concern to all registered podiatrists, hence the open letter.
Podiatry is a small, yet absolutely vital profession, more so than ever due to our ageing population and the consequent requirement for effective, medically valid care and treatment of the nation’s feet. I do know from my own work on various projects for the Department of Health, that a minimum of 50%, perhaps more, of podiatry care is delivered through private practice and it is this area that I would like to draw your attention to at this time.
I know that I speak for my profession, when I say that we fully appreciate and understand that scarce resources must be initially targeted at defeating Covid-19 by supplying front line medical staff with the tools to permit them to perform their wonderful, challenging, and may I say exceptionally brave efforts. However, we also have to plan for the future of services such as podiatry, because if that service fails it compromises the foot (and therefore general) health of diabetics, the frail and elderly and even the fit and well who may develop acute foot problems.
As private practices are businesses, they are at very real danger of failing due to lack of income, and whilst the governments initiatives may help individuals, the effect on such private podiatry practices with the continuing overheads such businesses have, may be irredeemable, not least additionally due to permanently losing clients in situations where practices are closed for extended periods. Accordingly, I am requesting that the private practitioner is not left out of consideration of being offered services such as virus testing and other support in a timely manner, which may assist individual practitioners in getting back to work safeguarding feet as soon as safely and ethically possible.
I would also highlight the number of HCPC registered private podiatry practitioners who have responded to the call for assistance to the NHS and hope that we have an opportunity to use our professional skills effectively. Given the substantial experience that we have with the elderly and similar ‘at risk’ groups, perhaps a consideration and discussion of how best to use the resource of private podiatry as a whole to maximum effect is worthwhile.
My best wishes for your continued health, yours sincerely,
Martin Harvey, FPodM, PGC, BSc
HCPC Registered Podiatrist Independent Prescriber
Chair of Executive Council, Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists
Response: John Barwick, Chief Executive & Registrar HCPC