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.
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.
Training is 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 private sector foot care through private colleges in England. Many FHPs go on to complete further courses in areas such as biomechanics and cryotherapy.
FHPs in the United Kingdom Appropriately trained Foot Health Practitioners can become members of the following professional bodies: the Alliance of Private Sector Practitioners, the College of Foot Health Professionals and the Association of Foot Health Professionals - Membership of these bodies includes practice insurance and access to Continual Professional Development. The Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists grants only associate membership to Foot Health Practitioners. The Alliance of Private Sector Practitioners maintains the Professional Standards Authority accredited 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 and members of the Accredited Register of Foot Health Practitioners.
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 College of Foot Health Practitioners Practitioners trained at the College of Foot Health Practitioners achieve a Level 4 Diploma in Foot Health Practice with commensurate clinical training. They join the Alliance of Private Sector Practitioners for professional advancement, Continuing Professional Development, and listing on the nationally recognized Professional Standards Authority accredited 'Accredited Register of Foot Health Practitioners'. Professional Standards Authority accredited registers are now the Governments preferred method of regulation. Harry Cayton CBE, Chief Executive of the Professional Standards Authority said:
“Being accredited is a mark of quality. It shows that the register is well managed and that it requires practitioners on its register to meet high standards of personal behaviour, technical competence and, where relevant, business practice” (News Release 3rd December 2012).
The Register The Register is accredited by the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care, the independent government-appointed body that accredits registers of health and care occupations that do not come under statutory regulation, as meeting all of its standards. The same Authority also audits and reports to Parliament on the work of the HCPC, GMC, NMC and the other statutory registers. 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 (£10,000) may be imposed by the Professional Standards Authority for misuse. The Registrar has the authority to examine cases, impose sanctions on its members and publish the outcomes on its public register website. In addition, the Registrar shares disciplinary outcomes and striking-off offences with other regulators. An annual audit of CPD is held to ensure compliance with the Register's requirements.
Being a member of a nationally-recognised 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.
The Alliance of Private Sector Practitioners maintains the Accredited Register of Foot Health Practitioners. Route A direct entry to the register requires a Level 4 Diploma in Foot Health Practice and ten days of approved clinical training. Application can be made for listing by persons who do not have a Level 4 Diploma or the requisite approved practical training but they must apply for entry via Route B which means passing a Test of Competence.
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.