Podiatry – a profession to be proud of
The College of Podiatry (London) represents the largest group of podiatrists in the U.K. Their database known as PASCOM-10, an audit system originally developed in 1997 (PASCOM-2000), has gathered on-line data for the last 8 years (mainly for podiatric surgeons) but reached an impressive 100,000 patients this week. The database is possibly the largest database held anywhere covering the specialty of podiatric surgeons and is used to capture the benefits of treatment amongst patients with foot health problems. While surgery has been an important component, the high risk foot has equally developed a significant contribution to preventing limb amputations and early loss of life, especially from chronic arthritic vascular conditions and diabetes. The latest Government working party paper on focusing on healthcare manpower recognises that podiatrists within the National Health Service have fallen amongst recruit numbers, and yet their contribution to foot-care in the UK is paramount to maintaining mobility amongst the population for all age groups.
Dealing with pain, skin damage (tissue viability) and deformity rank as the key contributions to the foot health of the UK nation. British podiatry is probably able to provide a wider service than any other podiatry service in Europe. The growth of muscle-skeletal services within the NHS has combined with other groups such as physiotherapy and orthopaedics. Working together with other groups in multi-disciplinary teams has become an important development for British podiatry in the last 10 years.
The top ranking podiatric conditions seen by those centres audited by PASCOM-10 includes hallux valgus (bunion) at 32%, followed by hammer toes (23%) and then arthritic stiff toe joints (11%). Ingrowing toe nail only ranks no.5 at 4% providing a strong suggestion that other conditions are considered more significant and referred to podiatrists by GP practices in the UK. In 1989 majority of surgical management by podiatrists involved ingrowing toe nails and simple skin conditions. The College formed in 1987-8 after an amalgamation took place of the different groups of podiatry professional bodies now has some 10,000 members within the professional body known as The Society of Chiropodists & Podiatrists. The profession continues to develop more treatment programmes for a wide range of groups. The organisation’s website feetforlife.org provides more information about UK Podiatry.