Podiatry is one of the professions allied to medicine. Others include Physiotherapy, Dietetics and Occupational Therapy. These professions come under the governance of the Health Care and Professions Council (HCPC) which publishes registers of those practitioners eligible for HCPC Registration. The Health Care and Professions Council (HCPC) is a regulatory body, that protects the public by setting standards for training, professional skills, behaviour and health of those professionals allied to medicine. Agenda for change, a reform of NHS pay was designed to deliver a fair pay structure. Rather than being paid according to job title, staff are placed in one of nine pay bands on the basis of: 

  • Knowledge
  • Responsibility skills
  • Effort needed for the job 

Assessment of each post determines the correct pay band and therefore the correct basic pay. Within each band, there are a number of pay points and as staff develop their skills and knowledge, they progress in increments up to the maximum of their pay band. Staff can progress through ‘gateway points’ upon demonstration of the application of knowledge and skills needed for a higher banded job.

Local management philosophy and departmental structure will determine the service within each NHS Trust, but there will usually be a professional lead to manage the service. Assistant Practitioners should be informed of the local structure and working practices on induction.

Podiatrists employed by the NHS are required to be HCPC registered and will usually also be members of the Royal College of Podiatry (MRCPod). Within each podiatry department, Assistant Practitioners will work in many different areas depending on local needs, and may include health centres, hospitals, domiciliary visiting, social service homes, mobile units and many others. Usually the majority of work is undertaken within a primary care setting.

The Primary Health Care Team

The primary health care team (PHCT) has evolved from the traditional model to a broader and modern concept of care delivery. The list is by no means exhaustive and, as health care delivery changes, the members will evolve alongside the change.

  • Traditional PHCT: GP partners, GP assistants, GP registrars, Practice nurses, Practice managers, Receptionists, Community nurses, Midwives, Health visitors and Nurse practioners.
  • Selected secondary care services: Hospital consultants and diagnostic imaging.
  • Allied health professionals: Podiatrists, Physiotherapists, Occupational therapists, Pharmacists, Dieticians, Councellors
  • Complementary therapy: Acupuncture and Homeopathy
  • Social Services and Health Promotion
  • Others beyond surgery: NHS Direct and NHS walk in centres

Podiatrists and Assistant Practitioners link into the primary health care team and play an important role in the delivery of holistic care to patients. The primary role of the podiatrist and Assistant Practitioner is to deliver care of the lower limb, however during the course of the treatment, you may be concerned about a patient, e.g. finding that his or her condition has seriously deteriorated, social circumstances have changed (death of a partner) or for continence advice. Understanding the primary health care team and referral pathways into supporting services is vital for quality patient care.

Assistant Practitioners should understand the role of all members of the primary health care team. The importance of team work is vital to the wellbeing of the patient. Communication between the podiatry team and other primary health care professionals is of the utmost importance in respect of patients’ foot or general health.