The RCPod publishes its workforce and education reform programme

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The work will help people understand the podiatry workforce in the UK and give them the information they need to join the workforce, stay in it or return to it.

The Royal College of Podiatry (RCPod) has published its podiatry Workforce and Education Reform Programme. The work includes eight sets of resources that inform the profession and public about:

  • Podiatry and its scope of practice
  • The complete podiatry career from Band 3 to Band 8 in the NHS
  • The support available for students and newly-qualified podiatrists and how best to retain them
  • Supporting podiatrists to return to practice - particularly in the NHS
  • Recruiting podiatrists from other countries — like Spain and South Africa — and how it can bolster the UK workforce
  • Apprenticeships as a way of gaining a professional qualification in the foot health workforce
  • How the podiatry support workforce can help to meet patient demand
  • Practice-based learning
  • The opportunities for practising podiatrists to develop into First Contact Practitioner roles or advanced clinical practice.

In 2021, Health Education England (HEE) — now NHS England (NHSE) — invited the Allied Health Professions (AHPs) to respond to its tender to produce workforce education and reform programmes. NHSE awarded the RCPod funding to produce the work for podiatry and entrusted it to develop resources and information that would contribute to:

  • Helping NHSE and the RCPod to meet the objectives set out for podiatry in their AHP strategy and the NHS Long Term Plan and NHS People Plan
  • The ongoing work to increase the supply of podiatrists and the foot health sector to meet patient need, particularly given the growing and ageing population
  • Sustaining the profession into the future by making key information available to the profession, the public, NHSE and prospective podiatrists
  • Information that can be used by all sectors of the profession, including independent practice, to expand workforce provision.

The work was led by a dedicated project team throughout 2022 and 2023 and was supported by an oversight group of RCPod members and representatives from NHS England. The RCPod members were from a mix of professional areas, including the Council, Independent practice, the academic sector and the NHS. RCPod members also contributed to these projects in a series of stakeholder events in the Autumn of 2022 and in the Spring of 2023.

NHSE will now also use the information that the RCPod has produced to update the information it publishes about the profession and in its continued national efforts to sustain the podiatry workforce in the NHS.

Jane Pritchard, Chief Executive Officer and General Secretary at the Royal College of Podiatry said:

“This work is the result of a strong and collaborative effort between the RCPod and NHS England. It provides a timely update for our members, the public and the future podiatry workforce. These resources will help people to understand the podiatry workforce in the UK. It aims to give people the information they need - to join the workforce, stay in it or return to it. This is crucial if we are to ensure that podiatry continues to contribute to public health."

Beverley Harden, AHP lead at NHS England Workforce, Training and Education, said:

“I am delighted to see the launch of the podiatry reform programme. This work was commissioned by HEE — now NHS England — to drive the sustainability of the podiatry workforce. It’s a fantastic piece of work that looks at the career continuum of podiatrists; from the support workers at Bands 2, 3 and 4, to the podiatrists working from Band 5 all the way up to Band 8. It helps to realise the totality of the podiatric skillset that is available to the whole population.”

Click here to access the Workforce and Education Reform Programme.