The NHS Long Term Plan sets out a 10-year programme to improve health and care for local people to get the right care in the place at the right time. There is a movement towards proactive, predictive, and personalised prevention with Primary care networks (PCNs) creating multi-disciplinary teams (MDTs) to increase capacity and provide services closer to home. As outlined in the priorities and operational planning guidance 2022/2023, this project supports the priorities set out in several ways: by investing in our workforce, increasing the utilisation of the additional roles, increasing workforce numbers, and thereby supporting timely access to foot health specialists within primary care.

First contact practitioners

In 2021, The Saks Report identified recommendations for the scope of podiatry with official definitions of role and practice and encouraged podiatrists to be seen as First Contact Practitioners (FCP) for issues directly or indirectly associated with the lower limb. FCPs were introduced approximately eight years ago. It put Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) with an extended level of training at the forefront of patient care; to decrease GP demands, improve patient care with the correct assessment, diagnosis and treatment or get a referral in the quickest time. Unfortunately, the FCP role within podiatry has a relatively low uptake despite government funding via the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS) to support this ‘new’ local-level work.


The Allied Health Professional’s Strategy for England (2022), aims to secure the future workforce supply, bridging the gap between education and work and enabling the workforce to deliver and grow AHP development. Areas of focus include AHP's commitment to research and it highlights the need to strengthen the evidence base, inform service design, and include personalised podiatric care approaches with people and their communities. This project is further steered by The Saks Report that highlighted a limited and incomplete research base and the need for systematic data gathering and more prioritised clinical research for public and patient benefit. Promoting advancing levels of practice in clinical and research areas within the profession could be key to bridging the gap between education and work and it is vital to workforce development and progression of the profession.

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Profession interventions