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Podiatrists

Why Do We Need Podiatrists Working in Primary Care?

Podiatrists are able to assess and treat patients of all ages, across a wide range of conditions. This includes people with lower limb biomechanical problems, structural deformities, vascular issues, diabetes, arthritis, dermatological problems, and general infections. Podiatrists may also use MSK ultrasound, injection therapy, and prescribing as part of their patient management. Studies show that:

  • Foot and ankle conditions make up 8% of GP consultations
  • 10% of people up to the age of 55 will see a podiatrist
  • 60% of people over the age of 85 will see a podiatrist

Benefits of Podiatrists in Primary Care

Benefits for patients:

  • Quick and easy access to expert advice
  • May prevent symptom progression and exacerbation
  • Improved patient experience and ability to self-manage their condition
  • Avoid hospital attendance for specialist services through early detection of problems

Benefits for GPs:

  • Release of GP time through reallocating appointments for patients with lower limb biomechanical problems, structural deformities, vascular issues, diabetes, arthritis, dermatological problems, and general infections
  • Reduce the need for secondary care referral
  • Support to meet practice targets
  • Support to meet the ambitions to influence local population health improvements through early intervention and preventative work

Benefits for podiatrists:

  • Professionally stimulating and rewarding role and use of their professional knowledge and skills, including through stronger links with the multi-disciplinary team.
  • Opportunities to develop and make use of their scope of practice and skills, including use MSK ultrasound, injection therapy, specialist wound management and prescribing as part of their patient management.
  • Opportunity to request initial investigations e.g. tissue/swab taking, bloods and X rays.
  • Opportunities to develop experience, learning and skills in service development, quality improvement and implementation science

Scope of Practice

  • Podiatrists working in Primary Care see patients with (suspected or diagnosed) MSK conditions or diabetic foot complications as the first point of contact, instead of a GP, and can be accessed directly by contacting the practice’s reception.
  • A typical FCP appointment involves assessment, diagnosis and first-line treatment. Podiatrist’s can also use MSK ultrasound, injection therapy, wound management techniques and prescribing as part of their patient management.
  • As a person-centred service, most appointments include self-management advice, social prescribing, and discussions about physical activity and fitness for work.

Education Pathways

AHPs should work to the advanced level of clinical practice as defined by clinical practice pillar in the Multi-professional Framework for Advanced Clinical Practice.

Allied Health Professionals working in primary care can often see and address patient needs at their first point of contact within the healthcare system, or for follow up management where appropriate.

With further training, it is possible for AHPs to achieve compliance across all four pillars of this framework. Demonstrated compliance with all four pillars may be achieved through post-graduate clinical Masters training through formal academic routes, or through equivalent- level portfolio training submitted and signed off by the Health Education England Centre for Advancing Practice. Through this route, multi-disciplinary professions are able to achieve Advanced Practitioner status. This level of practice is commonly recognised through Agenda for Change banding in secondary care settings.

 

Please click here to find out more about Roadmaps to Practice from HEE.