It’s important to know what contribution Podiatrists make to the UK’s foot health. Whilst this includes understanding the outcomes that Podiatry care can offer, it is also about understanding our capacity for delivery of care.
We often hear that we need “more Podiatrists”, of unmet foot health needs due to a shortage of staff. So how many people benefit from Podiatry in the UK? How many people see a Podiatrist each month? Do we have capacity to do more for the nation’s feet?
There are no figures (that I know of in the public domain) but we can try some estimates. But first ask yourself…How many people do you think see a Podiatrist EACH MONTH?
1 in ?… 50, 75, 100? Don’t cheat, have a go.………………(well done for not cheating)
Ok, Lets try some sums. There are ~13000 registered Podiatrists in the UK (according to HCPC). Lets assume 90% are in active practice? That’s 11,700 and some of these work part time, lets say 20%, so that’s 9370 in full time practice, 2340 part time.
It’s laborious to type the rest, so here is my working out, with some assumptions of course….
This suggests as many 1 in 28 people, or 3.51% of the UK population see a Podiatrist each month. Or, if these are not unique patients, there are 2.1 Million contacts per month? I don’t believe this is true, I had thought (before I started writing) that it might be than 1 in 50 people (so 2%) at the most.
The most important assumption in the above are the number of Podiatrists working full time and patients seen per day (plus I assumed part time work was half a week). If you are treating routine skin lesions you might see upwards of 20 patients, if you are seeing foot ulcers you might be in single figures. Here is another example adjusted for both of these, and assuming less people are actually practising. Is this closer to your guess?
But really, are only 80% of registered Podiatrists practising? Only 30% in full time practice? And then do we only see 6 patients a day?
But wait for it. I asked YOU for your thoughts via Twitter and someone suggested they had data to prove an even lower figure:
What do I have to do to get the number DOWN to 1 in 130 people each month?
Can you really walk past 130 people in the street and only 1 of them are seeing a Podiatrist this month? Here is what you have to do to the national workforce to make it 1 in 130,
Working = 70%, full time just 25% and then only seeing 4 patients a day.
Surely this isn’t right?
What this reveals is a huge unused resource of clinical skills. It reveals what we could offer the nation in terms of foot health care if only people knew who we are, where we are and how they might benefit from Podiatry care.
Are we an “untapped well” for better foot health? with excess capacity for delivery of the foot care the UK needs? I say we are. So what next? We need to make feet important to people, engage them in understanding why good foot health is “good health and well being” and worth an investment of time and resource too.
Why don’t people think that feet matter?