A TEAM of 30 NHS podiatry service colleagues are celebrating 20 years of providing foot care for people across Somerset, including Yeovil hospital.

Amazingly, two ‘originals’ still remain in the Somerset NHS Foundation Trust (FT) team – Roger Halliday and Rebecca Still, who are both podiatrists.

Tony Joyce, a podiatric surgeon and head of service for Somerset FT, said he was proud of the outstanding achievements of our podiatry colleagues over the years.

He said: “Our service is under more pressure than ever with a well-documented national shortage of podiatrists.

“This simply makes it all the more amazing how, every day, our colleagues do such a sterling job in ulcer prevention and treatment, limb preservation, and assisting with the mobility of people in Somerset.

“We provide many other types of service, including biomechanics of the musculoskeletal system, which looks at lower limb function, as well as orthotic devices that help with stretching and exercise therapy to improve a patient’s pain and mobility.

“It’s not just out in the community that our teams operate, as we also provide services in both Musgrove Park and Yeovil hospitals, where we manage patients who’ve been admitted from the community or through our district nurses and GPs.

“We work really closely with the vascular and endocrinology teams on the hospital wards too.

“Over the years, our whole profession has had to evolve a great deal due to our caseload of patients having increasingly complex needs, often due to people living longer.

“This seems to have accelerated in the last six years as we’re now seeing far more patients for post-operative follow-up care, after they’ve been operated on by our vascular and orthopaedic surgeons – who are also seeing many more patients themselves.

“We are having to do this within the context of a national shortage of podiatrists, and I’m so proud of our team for the incredible resilience that they’ve shown over the past few years in stepping up to the plate.

“It has been extra challenging as our department is in a period of transformation, which can be unsettling.

“In the last eight months, we’ve been able to halve our waiting list, though we know that some patients have been waiting a long time, and we’re working through this.

“The absolute jewel in our crown is our preceptorship programme, as when we take on a new graduate, we give them a six-month preceptorship period, which is essentially their transition period from student to a qualified podiatrist.

“The first two colleagues we put through this preceptorship programme are absolutely outstanding, and the feedback we’ve had from them about the programme has been tremendous – great news for our recruitment and retention of colleagues.

“We’re bucking the trend nationally because we’ve gone from a service that colleagues don’t really want to work in, to having people constantly asking us whether we have any vacancies.

“It’s fair to say that the satisfaction of colleagues in our team is at its highest for 10 years, and the retention of colleagues is the best it has ever been – it’s a great time to work in podiatry.”