Frequently Asked Questions
In the UK podiatry is simply the new name for chiropody and the terms are interchangeable. The name was changed to podiatry in 1993 as it's the international recognised name for a foot specialist.
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.
Can anyone call themselves a chiropodist or podiatrist?
No. By law, practitioners must be registered with the Health Professions Council (HPC) to legally use these protected professional titles. The HPC is the UK government regulatory body.
How can I be sure who's who?
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 in podiatry (BSc), 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 do the letters that Podiatrists use mean?
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.
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.
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.
What do Chiropodists do?
Chiropodists/podiatrists provide all aspects of care for the feet and lower limbs for all ages. They can diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions, ranging from the routine removal of corns and callous, verrucae to more advanced practices.
Though podiatry is often perceived a being a service primarily for older people, and indeed Podiatrists provide long term continuing care for individuals with limited visual acuity or mobility problems, elderly people, and any chronic or specialist foot problems caused by diseases such as diabetes, circulatory disorders, musculo-skeletal conditions, neuro-vascular disorders, arthritic / rheumatological problems or dermatological conditions
Podiatrists treat all age groups. Children and sportsmen and women often require biomechanical assessments, and common conditions such as verrucae, fungal infections and foot / knee / hip / back or lower limb pain can occur in any age group.
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 we will contact them after your initial assessment.)