Foot problems and the podiatrist

A podiatrist or chiropodist can help you with common foot problems, including ingrown toenails and bunions.

What does a podiatrist do?

Podiatrists can be thought of as a type of foot doctor. They can give you and your family advice on how to look after your feet and what type of shoes to wear. They can also treat and alleviate day-to-day foot problems including:

How can a podiatrist help?

You may want to see a podiatrist for advice and treatment if you have painful feet, thickened or discoloured toenails, cracks or cuts in the skin, growths such as warts, scaling or peeling on the soles or any other foot-related problem.

Podiatrists can also supply orthotics, which are tailor-made insoles, padding and arch supports to relieve arch or heel pain. You put the orthotic device into your shoe to re-align your foot, take pressure off vulnerable areas of your foot or simply to make your shoes more comfortable.

Even if your feet are generally in good condition, you might consider having a single session of podiatry to have the hard skin on your feet removed, toenails clipped, to find out if you’re wearing the right shoes (take your shoes with you for specific advice on footwear) or just to check that you’re looking after your feet properly.

What’s the difference between a podiatrist and a chiropodist?

There’s no difference between a podiatrist and chiropodist, but podiatrist is a more modern name.

What happens at the consultation?

At your first consultation, the podiatrist will usually cut your toenails, remove any hard skin and check your feet for other minor problems such as corns, calluses or verrucas. Usually, any minor problems that are picked up can be treated on the spot. It’s usually completely painless (even pleasant) and takes between 30 and 60 minutes.

Can I get podiatry on the NHS?

You may be able to.

Since 1st April 2013, clinical commissioning groups(CCGs) were given the power to decide what footcare services to commission for their local area.

NICE guidance recommends that footcare services related to long term conditions such as diabetes, peripheral arterial disease and rheumatoid arthritis should be available on the NHS.

However, there is no NICE guidance for foot health provision that is not associated with a long term condition. So each individual CCGs will decide on what to make available on the NHS depending on local need.

If you want NHS treatment, contact your GP or local chiropody/podiatry service to see if you qualify.

If your condition is not affecting your health or mobility – such as a verruca that looks ugly but doesn’t hurt when you walk – you are unlikely to be eligible for NHS podiatry.

Find your local CCG.

Read more about getting podiatry on the NHS.

Can I see a podiatrist at home?

If your foot problems are so bad that you find it difficult to walk, it may be possible to arrange for a chiropodist to come to your home. Tell your GP if you need to have a home visit and they should be able to find you a suitable chiropodist or podiatrist.

Can I see a podiatrist privately?

If free NHS treatment isn’t available, your GP can still refer you to a local clinic for private treatment, but you will have to pay.

You can also book an appointment with a podiatrist directly, without a GP’s referral.

You can use The Society of Chiropodists & Podiatrists' website to find a local podiatrist or chiropodist.

How can I make sure the podiatrist is qualified?

Anyone who calls themselves a podiatrist or chiropodist must register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

Go to the HCPC website to check if your podiatrist or chiropodist is registered.

It’s also worth checking that they are a member of one of the following organisations:

How much does private podiatry cost?

Private fees can vary depending on where you live and the podiatrist’s experience. Ring a few local podiatry clinics to check their prices.

Page last reviewed: 21/12/2013

Next review due: 21/12/2015

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The 1 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Mary Taylor said on 01 February 2014

"It’s also worth checking..........•The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists •The Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists
•British Chiropody and Podiatry Association "

This makes no difference. Membership gives no guarantees and each society has different standards although it is worth noting that the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists only takes its membership from those that have done the 3 year training - they were the body for those with state registration and they still take nothing less. However, one does not have to be a member of anything.
Checking if the person is HPC registered will tell you nothing of the podiatrist's training either.
The best way to understand what qualifications your podiatrist has is to ask them direct and look it up - but if they are directly employed by the NHS (not simply on the GP's list of podiatrists they can refer you to via AQP) they will have done the full training.

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