The RCPod publishes the full process to accredit foot health support workers and courses that prepare individuals for roles in the unregulated foot health workforce

support workforce
The support workforce in NHS commissioned services can now apply for assessment for free – a limited offer for the first 50 applications until 31 March 2024.

The Royal College of Podiatry (RCPod) has today published the full process that foot health support workers will use to become professionally accredited to maximise their contribution to NHS services. 

Support workers can submit expressions of interest to apply to become accredited through the RCPod’s website. Individuals will have a year to submit a portfolio of evidence that maps their skills and knowledge against the Foot Health Standards and the RCPod’s newly created Standards of Education and Training (SETs). The RCPod will then assess the portfolio of evidence and if the application illustrates educational equivilence to the standards. 

There will be no charge for the first 50 applications received until 31 March 2024.

Foot health support workers are not fully trained HCPC-regulated podiatrists, but they are crucial in supporting foot care in the public and private sectors. The NHS is working to optimise support roles and maximise use of apprenticeships to train the workforce. 

Following a consultation in late 2020, NHS England (NHSE), formally Health Education England, launched its Foot Health Standards in 2021. These standards officially recognised the knowledge and skills of the foot health support workforce in the NHS for the first time. Following an open tender process, NHSE then awarded the RCPod with the contract to create accreditation pathways for courses that prepare individuals for roles in the unregulated foot health workforce and for those wishing to be individually assessed against NHSE’s Foot Health Standards and the RCPod's newly created Standards of Education and Training (SETs).The RCPod consulted widely about the proposals in 2022 before finalising the process earlier this year.

The accreditation process has been created to try to increase the number of support workers working in the NHS. It is hoped that the support workforce will continue their professional development within the health service and go on to gain the further qualifications needed to become fully qualified podiatrists.

Individual support workers can become accredited to apply for support worker roles in the NHS in two ways, depending on their status:

  • Newly qualified practitioners who complete an RCPod-accredited programme to illustrate their level of practice or their key areas of development can apply directly for NHS jobs
  • Practitioners currently working in the foot health support workforce in the independent sector but who would like to work in roles in the NHS can apply now, but their application will be easier if they are accredited via the RCPod.

Education providers of support worker programmes can submit their programmes to the RCPod by following a separate accreditation process that is also outlined on the RCPod's website.

Support workers who are currently employed within the NHS are also invited to apply to have their skills and knowledge professionally accredited by the RCPod through this process.

Commenting on the accreditation process, RCPod Chief Executive Jane Pritchard, said:

“After years of hard work to get to this point, it’s great to finally publish the accreditation process for foot health support workers. We identified this vital group of people as being key to securing the long-term prosperity of the profession and podiatry services more generally. We’d now like to invite as many support workers as possible to put themselves through our accreditation process so that they can be professionally recognised by the RCPod for their immense skills, knowledge and ability.

You can read more about the process and access the accreditation documentation here.