Strengthening the foot health workforce

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Dr Paul Chadwick, Clinical Director, Royal College of Podiatry, examines the importance of an accreditation process for standards for the foot health support workforce

Today the Royal College of Podiatry (RCPod) and Health Education England (HEE) launch a consultation on a process for accrediting foot health support workers, and the institutions that train them, to work in the NHS.

Through the consultation, we’re looking for views from podiatrists and others in the foot health sector on a series of documents developed over several months, which show how the process of accreditation would work.

The work was led by a project team tasked with developing a process for implementing the Standards for the Foot Health Workforce. The project was funded by Health Education England, with the work subject to regular review by an independent, cross-sector group.

All views shared will be collated and fed into a review of the texts before they are finalised - so it’s really important to hear from as many podiatrists and others in the foot health community as possible.

What will the new accreditation process mean? For the first time, all the foot health occupations will be joined up within a system that ensures quality across the spectrum of care. The Standards for the Foot Health Workforce, developed by HEE and the Foot Health Consortium and published last year, show the skills and knowledge foot health support workers need to achieve to be able to work in the NHS. With an accreditation process in place, people training for support roles in accredited institutions, and people already in practice who can demonstrate their competence, will in future be able to work in the NHS.

By bringing essential foot health support workers into the NHS workforce, the NHS can improve foot health care at all levels. In a context of rapidly expanding demand, and with an ageing population, it’s vital for the NHS to secure the workforce it needs to provide essential foot health services into the future.

We all know that this is not a straightforward step. Podiatrists are rightly concerned about the quality of services delivered to patients. Opening the door in this way to employment in the NHS provides a means to ensure rigorous standards are in place, while expanding access for patients.

After many months of hard work we are pleased to be able to share our work with you. Please do take the time to read the documents and post your comments on the online form via the link below.

Read the documents and take part in the consultation