(last updated July 2019)
What has been happening in the chiropody sector
Recent years have seen an increase in both NHS and private provision of chiropody services because:
- patients are becoming more demanding
- the range of treatments has expanded
- the population is ageing and older people have more foot and mobility problems than younger people
- there has been an increase in the number of people with diabetes - diabetes can cause a range of different foot problems like fungal infections, ulcers, bunions and corns
- a growing percentage of the population is obese - obesity can result in a number of painful foot and leg conditions
- there is an increased focus on personal grooming - to wear fashionable strappy sandals and other footwear women want their feet to be attractive and free from infections, calluses and so on. The current fashion for very high-heeled shoes has resulted in an increase in damage to women's feet
- more private health insurance policies now reimburse the cost of seeing a chiropodist privately
A major development in recent years has been the introduction of the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and the legal protection that is given to the titles chiropodist and podiatrist. Anyone who wants to practise using these titles must be registered with the HCPC - the aim being to raise the professional standing of the whole profession by making sure that all registered chiropodists have satisfied certain conditions. There are currently nearly 13,000 chiropodists and podiatrists registered with the HCPC. Since 2013 podiatrists have been able to become independent prescribers once they've completed specific training. Details of the approved training courses are available on the HCPC website.
Although demand for chiropody appears to be strong, you will have to decide whether:
- there is enough demand in your area to support your proposed practice
- you will be able to compete against existing independent and NHS chiropodists in your area as well as other foot healthcare providers
Keeping up to date with developments
Joining a trade association is an excellent way of keeping up to date with developments in your industry. There are several organisations that represent the interests of chiropodists, including the following:
- the Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists (IOCP). The Institute represents the interests of chiropodists working in both the private and the public sectors. It publishes a professional journal, Podiatry Review quarterly
- the British Chiropody and Podiatry Association (BCPA) represents independent chiropodists who have trained at the SMAE Institute, the School of Surgical Chiropody and Podiatric Medicine at Maidenhead. In 2005 the BCPA joined forces with the Association of Foot Health Professionals
- the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists. The Society represents HCPC registered chiropodists, working in both the NHS and private sectors
- the Alliance of Private Sector Practitioners. The Alliance represents podiatrists and foot health practitioners. It maintains the Accredited Register of Foot Health Professionals
Each organisation has a website that provides further information.
You can get a lot of useful information if you go to a trade event for the chiropody sector. You will be able to meet suppliers of foot care products and see the latest ranges of equipment. The IOCP annual conference includes seminars and lectures on podiatric matters as well as a number of trade exhibitors. Visit the IOCP website for more information. The Exhibitions website includes details of forthcoming trade shows and exhibitions in many different industry sectors.