The story

In late 2021, Health Education England (HEE) - now a part of NHS England (NHSE) - entrusted the RCPod to develop a workforce and education reform programme.

In response, the RCPod has built resources that improve the information available to podiatrists and the public about the profession's workforce.

This work helps NHSE and RCPod to achieve the NHS Long Term Plan and the NHS People Plan. Both of these plans identified a need to increase the supply of podiatrists and the foot health sector to meet patient need, particularly given the growing and ageing population. 

Beverley Harden, AHP lead at NHS England Workforce, Training and Education, and Jo Casey, Professional Development Lead, Royal College of Podiatry, introduce this work and talk about its importance to the future of podiatry.

The projects

The RCPod assembled a dedicated project team to create this work. They were supported by an oversight group of RCPod members and representatives from NHS England. The RCPod members were from a mix of professional areas, including:

◊ Council
◊ Independent practice
◊ The academic sector
◊ The NHS.

The programme consists of eight projects. Each project has a dedicated webpage that contains resources, information and a full report. 


Modernisation and reform of the twenty-first-century podiatrist

This project aims to support podiatry in evolving with the ever-changing landscape of healthcare by modernising and reforming the education and training of podiatrists in line with the NHS Long Term Plan trajectory.

Find out more

Placement recovery and expansion

Placement recovery and expansion was an overarching strategic aim of the Workforce Education Reform Programme with a specific aim to drive innovation in practice-based learning. This project was tasked with developing a practice-based learning framework to prepare our learners for the diverse workloads expected of the modern twenty-first century-podiatrist.

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Retention and support for students, the newly-qualified workforce and early careers

With podiatry workforce levels becoming increasingly pressured, this project focuses on ensuring newly-qualified podiatrists are supported and retained, whilst enhancing early career development opportunities. 

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Supporting AHPs to return to practice and return to the NHS

The project aligns with national priorities, as set out in the NHS Long Term Plan and the AHP Strategy for England, which prioritise increasing the supply within the workforce by encouraging people to return to practice.

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International recruitment

This project looks at the needs of international recruits coming to work in the UK, and the requirements of podiatry managers recruiting overseas. International recruitment is seen as a means of filling the gaps in the workforce within the UK.

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The NHS People Plan is clear about shortages in the NHS podiatric workforce and the need for an increase in supply.  This project looks at how apprenticeships can provide a sustainable solution to the increasing demand on the profession.

Find out more


AHP support workforce and accreditation

Podiatry support workers play an integral role within the foot health team by supporting people's health and wellbeing. The NHS Long Term Plan (2019) recognises the need for a workforce fit to practise and highlights the requirements for collaborative working to support acute and chronic conditions.

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Profession specific interventions

The NHS Long Term Plan sets out a 10-year programme that prioritises the right care in the right place at the right time. This project looks at how additional roles, such as FCPs, could support  timely access to foot health specialists; and how increased research could benefit patient care. 

Find out more

The resources

  • These resources were created by the project team at the RCPod in consultation with members and a range of participants and expert collaborators
  • We have designed this information to be easy to access and practical to use
  • Each project has a number of resources associated with it which we would encourage you to explore. We would particularly draw your attention to the following:

The Career Framework

The Royal College of Podiatry has collaborated with HEE in updating the framework through digitalisation, making it more user-friendly and engaging.

To support professional growth, capability frameworks can be utilised to identify the level the practitioner is currently operating at; and by mapping this against the career framework, podiatrists can explore career progression opportunities.

Find out more about the Career Framework

Practice-based learning framework

Placement recovery and expansion was an overarching strategic aim of the Workforce Education Reform Programme with a specific aim to drive innovation in pre-registration practice-based learning (PBL)

Developing a PBL framework, with the four pillars of practice embedded firmly within the framework, links it to the workplace and prepares our learners for the diverse workloads expected of the modern twenty-first century podiatrist.

Find out more about the PBL framework


The resources on the apprenticeship pathway illustrate a new and non-degree route into the podiatry profession which allows the trainee to earn while they learn and gain a professional qualification and career.

Promoting the apprenticeship pathway aligns podiatry with the NHS People Plan which promotes apprenticeships as a sustainable solution to the shortages in the workforce currently experienced by many healthcare professions.

Find out more about podiatry apprenticeships

Video resources

AHP 2 video Ben and Molly
The twenty-first century-podiatrist
FCP video
First contact practitioners
Return to practice
Return to practice
Career framework video
The Career Framework

Reflections about the work

The RCPod welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with NHS England and other AHP professional bodies.

We hope that this information helps to change the perception and practice of podiatry and the foot health sector. We would also like it to initiate change in the training and service provision needed to support population health.

Our conversations with colleagues within medical, nursing and AHP teams, the wider health and care communities, service providers and policy holders, professional regulators, and other stakeholders have reinforced the invaluable contribution podiatry makes within health and social care.

The work demonstrates the immense skills and attributes of podiatrists and the foot health sector. We are a profession with a wide scope of practice and high standards of professionalism to ensure safe and comprehensive patient-centred care.