Can I get podiatric care on the NHS?

The modern National Health Service is a rich, multi-disciplinary practice where specialists from all areas work together to deliver the best possible care in their field. This approach is necessary in light of advances in medicine which mean that further specialisation is possible within clinical practices to deliver cutting edge diagnoses, treatments, and services.

Podiatry in the NHS

Podiatry, also known as chiropody, is a relatively new specialism that focusses on the treatment and management of the foot and ankle. Podiatrists will often deal with a wealth of different conditions ranging from ingrown toenails, corns, and verrucas to the complexities of diabetic foot disease.

Within the NHS podiatrists further specialise to better deliver treatment to groups in particular need of support like arthritics, diabetics, and often children. Podiatrists are able to work with people of all ages, and their services are important in keeping people mobile and active.

Eligibility for NHS podiatric treatment

Podiatric treatment is available in most parts of the country at present, and whether the service is available or not depends on the PCT (Primary Care Trust). The PCT is the authority responsible for managing a Trust’s funds and services, putting them firmly in charge of whether podiatry is available at all in the area.

Cases are usually assessed based on an individual’s needs, and where medically necessary podiatric care is available on the NHS. In most cases the criteria for whether or not free treatment available revolves around the question of mobility. If a person’s condition impacts their movement and quality of life, then treatment is provided through the NHS.

In most areas of the NHS diabetics are given priority podiatric treatment because of the complications presented by diabetic foot, a condition caused by diabetes that stems from poor circulation and sensitivity in the lower limb. Individual PCTs usually maintain their own referral policies however, and if you are diabetic it is worth familiarising yourself with your local PCT’s approach to referrals.

Referral is the main means by which podiatric services are provided through the NHS. If your doctor feels your individual circumstances warrant some specific podiatric care.

If you don’t qualify for free podiatric care then you will be able to access those services privately through a number of different practices here in the UK. If you are looking for private podiatry, remember to make sure that the service provider is qualified and registered with the Health and Care Professions Council, a society responsible for the regulation and management of podiatrists here in the UK. It is also worth checking to make sure that they are a member of a trade organisation like The British Chiropody and Podiatry Association, The Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, or The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, all of which provide accreditation to private practices that satisfy high standards of safety, performance, and professionalism.

All NHS podiatrists will be appropriately registered and qualified.

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