What are first contact practitioners?

First Contact Practitioner (FCP) podiatrists (also known as First Contact Podiatrists) usually work from GP surgeries and clinics within primary care and can see patients with lower limb conditions without them having seen the GP first. They are usually trained to Band 7 clinical capability in the NHS and demonstrate an extended level of skills, training, and experience.

First point of contact podiatrists:

  • Have enhanced level training beyond Band 6 podiatrist in primary care podiatry
  • Uses specialist knowledge of lower limb health across a broad range of clinical presentations spanning musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, neurological, dermatological, or age-related conditions
  • Provide personalised self-management advice, formulate initial treatment plans, facilitate shared decision-making, initiate appropriate tests and investigations, and initiate a referral to other services
  • Can progress from enhanced, to advanced, to consultant-level practice within primary care.

Project officer for the Royal College of Podiatry, Andrea Gledhill, says;

'From undergraduate training podiatrists are trained to assess, diagnose, and initiate treatment for all problems of the lower limb and these skills underpin the podiatrists’ whole clinical career. 

The FCP role

Podiatrists in these roles differ from podiatrists working in community health services. The FCP role is largely an assessment role where the podiatrist will utilise their clinical skill to diagnose and trigger management for problems affecting the lower limb. The assessment is comprehensive, however, and it can include arranging investigations such as imaging and blood tests, which they will then review to help inform diagnosis, disease monitoring, or multi-professional management planning. Podiatrists can prescribe and supply a limited range of prescription-only medicines at the point of graduation from their undergraduate degree. This includes a licence to administer local anaesthetics and undertake minor surgery of the lower limb, such as nail surgery, as well as administer other injectable medicines such as lower limb intra-articular steroids. Podiatrists can complete further training to become independently prescribing clinicians with broader access to prescription medicines and their management.

The FCP will have existing levels of competencies and skills, but further upskilling can occur to meet the varied population needs of the neighbourhood. This means that certain areas may have a greater need for their population: for example, a higher ageing population may require a higher level of falls prevention assessment which could be screened and referred for with the FCP podiatrists. Similarly, a higher need for dermatological investigations would benefit from upskilling in dermatology and competencies in the use of a dermatoscope by the FCP.

Download the FCP podiatry job description

Watch the video below to find out more about how FCP differs from community health services podiatry.

A roadmap has been published: these are key documents for understanding the path of podiatrists progressing into primary care roles and are accessible here: