Foot health practitioner
A Foot Health Practitioner (FHP) is a private sector provider of routine foot care. The title is most used in Ireland and the United Kingdom. FHPs undertake training to recognise, assess and treat commonly occurring foot conditions.
Training is usually undertaken through distance learning, with practical training delivered in clinics dedicated to this purpose. There is now a 100 year history of training practitioners of routine private sector foot care through private colleges in England. Many FHPs go on to complete further courses in areas such as biomechanics and cryotherapy. Many Foot Health Practitioners continue their development and remain updated by pursuit of Continuing Professional Development (CPD).
FHPs in the United Kingdom Appropriately trained Foot Health Practitioners can become members of the following professional bodies: The Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, the Alliance of Private Sector Practitioners, the College of Foot Health Professionals, the Association of Foot Health Professionals - Membership of these bodies includes practice insurance and access to Continual Professional Development. The Alliance of Private Sector Practitioners keeps the Professional Standards Authority Accredited Voluntary Register of Foot Health Practitioners.
Foot Health Practitioners may be trained at a number of independent institutions. For example, those trained at the SMAE Institute generally become members of the College of Foot Health Professionals and the Association of Foot Health Professionals and those who train at the College of Foot Health Practitioners generally become members of the Alliance of Private Sector Practitioners.
Foot Health Practitioners are autonomous private practitioners. Statutory regulation does not apply to Foot Health Practitioners. Foot Health Practitioners are not Chiropodists or Podiatrists and do not come under HCPC regulation.
The SMAE Institute Members of the College of Foot Health Professionals and the Association of Foot Health Professionals who have trained with the SMAE Institute hold a Higher Education Level 4 Diploma in Foot Health accredited by Oxford Brookes University. Such practitioners believe that this Diploma and membership of both the College and Association of Foot Health Professionals are marks of quality that are widely recognized and so generally do not subscribe to the voluntary register.
The Voluntary Register The Alliance of Private Sector Practitioners maintains the Accredited Voluntary Register of Foot Health Practitioners. This Register is accredited as meeting its standards by the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care, the independent government-appointed body that oversees the work of the nine statutory medical, health and care regulators and also accredits registers of health and care occupations that do not come under statutory regulation. Registrants can style themselves 'Member of the Accredited Register of Foot Health Practitioners' and display the Accredited Voluntary Register logo. It is an offence to claim to be a member of the Accredited Register or use the logo unless entitled - a fine may be imposed by the Professional Standards Authority for misuse. The Accredited Voluntary Register has the authority to examine cases, impose sanctions on its members and publish the outcomes on its public register website. In addition, the Register shares disciplinary outcomes and striking-off offences with other regulators.
Being a member of an Accredited Voluntary Register will attract commissioners and members of the public to contract and employ individuals who are listed on an Accredited Register. Being a Member of an Accredited Register is a mark of quality.
All Foot Health Practitioners of any training background can apply to join the Register, but must meet the criteria of entry before they can be admitted. Those who hold an NCFE level 4 Diploma in Foot Health Practice with 10 days of accredited practical training can apply to enter directly by Route A. All others must take and pass a Test of Competence with theory and practical elements designed to prove absolute ability to pursue the occupation - this is Route B.
Type of work The Foot Health Practitioner undertakes the routine work necessary to maintain the health of the foot, which may include but is not limited to nail trimming and correction, skin conditions, heel pain, corns, callus, verrucae, blisters, athletes foot, management of ingrowing toenails (without invasive surgery), diabetic foot assessment and monitoring, treatment of fungal infections, and general advice and guidance on foot care and footwear.