Podiatry: frequently asked questions
What's the difference between a Chiropodist and a Podiatrist?
In the UK podiatry is simply the new name for chiropody. The name was changed to podiatry in 1993 as it's the international recognised name for a foot specialist and also as it's slightly more appropriate; 'podiatry' refers just to feet while 'chiropody' refers to both feet and hands.
It's not just the name that has changed though. Podiatry is a constantly evolving profession, the extensive training given to students over the 3 or 4 years of their full time course and the continuing education after graduation enable Podiatrists to treat a vast array of foot and lower limb problems. Along with the most obvious treatments for corns and hard skin, specialties exist within the profession for almost any lower limb problem.
Remember: Podiatry should be your first port of call if you have a foot problem & you do not need a referral from your GP to seek a private consultation. (If your GP needs to be involved your podiatrist should contact them after your initial assessment.)
What do the letters that Podiatrists use mean?
DPodM or BSc(Podiatry) - This signifies that the Podiatrist has completed a full training course in podiatry at an approved institution. Originally this course was a diploma in podiatric medicine - DPodM but was later changed to a degree course - BSc. NB:DipPodMed is not the same as DPodM.
SRCh - State Registered Chiropodist. Since July the 9th 2003 this title is defunct though is likely to be used by many Podiatrists for the time being as it may still be expected by the general public as a sign that the Podiatrist is fully qualified. The current form of registration with the state is given by the new Health Professions Council (See notes on HPC registration below)
MChS or FChS - This means that the Podiatrist is a member or fellow of The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists. A practicing member of this society is assured of having professional indemnity insurance cover.
Some Podiatrists may have other letters after their name that signify further qualifications, for example F.C.Pod(S) for surgery but the above letters are important to know when seeking treatment for the majority of ailments.
HPC registration, means registration with the Health Professions Council. This is the regulatory board for chiropody/podiatry, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and others in the Allied Health Professions. On July the 9th 2003 the HPC replaced the old Council for Professions Supplementary to Medicine (CPSM). The CPSM set the standards for State Registration and NHS employment which for Podiatrists/Chiropodists was a minimum of 3 years full time training at an approved institution leading to a degree or diploma in podiatric medicine. Registration with the new HPC ensures the practitioner meets certain minimum standards of education though unlike the old CPSM it does not guarantee that the Podiatrist/Chiropodist holding registration has completed an approved course.
If not all registered Podiatrists have completed an approved course, who are the others on the HPC register?
In order to regulate the majority of people working as Chiropodists/Podiatrists the HPC allowed onto the register anyone who applies for HPC registration and who meets a minimum set of requirements, through a process known as grandparenting. Brief details of which you can view here - HPC grandparenting FAQ. In plain English this means that someone who has completed less than an approved 3 year course (often as little as a few weeks of formal training) but who had been working privately as an unregistered Podiatrist for at least three years had a chance to become registered and would then be regulated.
How can I be sure who's who?
This has actually been made more difficult by the Health Professions Council who insist that the obvious differences in training are to be ignored and will only state that all Podiatrists meet their new "minimum standards of proficiency". The HPC have a list of currently approved courses that are without exception BSc courses. This could well lead members of the public to expect that all registered Podiatrists are degree educated which is now not the case. As there is no requirement for a Podiatrist to declare their training level it is up to the patient to ask. Firstly ask if they are a HPC registered Podiatrist, it is a criminal offense to falsely claim they are. If they are registered you can further ask if they have a degree or 3 year diploma in podiatry (BSc or DPodM), it is a breech of the HPC regulations to falsely claim they have. If there is any show of protest at this or if they will only insist they are 'Fully Qualified' but won't be specific, it could well mean they are not.
What is a Foot Health Practitioner?
Many of those previously using the titles Chiropodist or Podiatrist who have not gained HPC registration, either through choice or because they were not eligible, have now adopted the title 'Foot Health Practitioner' to replace Chiropodist/Podiatrist which they can no longer use. This title is not protected in law which effectively means anyone can use it regardless of training levels. Courses are now available that offer a total of only 11 days practical tuition, after which students will call themselves "Fully trained and qualified Foot Health Practitioners" and will advertise the same medical treatments as those offered by Podiatrists. Clearly a Foot Health Practitioner course is not to be confused with the 3 years of full time training needed to become a Podiatrist.
Does it matter who I see?
This could depend on the severity of the problem you have. If your general health is less than perfect it might be that your feet are at a higher risk of problems than you realise, in this case you would be well advised to seek a consultation with the most highly trained podiatrist possible. If your feet are affected by a general condition such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, blood circulation problems, conditions that have altered the way you walk such as strokes or MS or if you are on high risk medication such as Warfarin you should certainly demand a good level of general medical knowledge from a highly trained podiatrist. If you are in good health but simply can no longer reach your feet to care for yourself and only have minor needs such as nail cutting and some hard skin it might not be as critical. Training certificates aren't everything though; you should feel confident that the Podiatrist you see understands the problem you have and can offer you effective treatments. If you don't feel sure about the Podiatrist you see, try another.
Which Podiatrists are listed on this website?
This site has always been for advertising Podiatrists who have completed an approved 3 year course, previously we used State Registration to check this but as this no longer exists we now simply reserve advertising for those with a degree or diploma in podiatry (BSc and DPodM) plus HPC registration. So all Podiatrists on this website are HPC registered and would have been eligible for State Registration with the old CPSM.
Visitors to this website should be aware that this list will not be a complete list of the practitioners that are registered with the HPC.