As part of our ongoing workforce series in STRIDE, we’re looking at different countries to see how they are responding to the challenge of recruiting and retaining podiatrists. In this month’s issue we look towards the UK, where a vast amount of Government support and funding has been invested to help address workforce shortages.

Funding and recruitment

To help meet this goal, a multi-million pound recruitment campaign (which has been in existence since 2018 to originally target the nursing sector) has now diversified to include allied health professionals. Called ‘We are the NHS’, this renewed campaign is fuelled by record funding that totals £39bn worth of investment over a three year period; partly delivered in response to the backlog brought about by the pandemic.

 

This funding includes:

 

  • £1.5bn investment to retain and recruit a range of primary care staff, including podiatrists.
  • An extra £520m to improve access and expand GP capacity.
  • Extra student payments worth up to £3,000 a year for health professions that are struggling to recruit, or those with childcare responsibilities. This funding is expected to benefit around 100,000 students each year.

Podiatrists in the spotlight in the UK

Podiatrists are certainly in the spotlight as the result of being identified as a role in ‘short supply’; based on statistics such as ones in this report and as outlined in the NHS Long Term Plan. You can download the Plan in full here (refer to page 82), and also consider referring to the interim NHS People Plan (relevant information is on pages 42, 47 & 50).  

 

While these workforce plans centre on public sector roles through the NHS, other work is being done to better understand what attracts podiatrists to their vocations in the workplace; regardless of whether they are based in the public or private sector. Research papers such as Podiatry as a career in the UK – what attracts Generation Z? A qualitative exploration with university and college students help to provide useful workforce insights for all sectors, and far beyond the UK.

 

The Royal College of Podiatry in the UK (RCPod) also reflects on related workforce issues for both public and private sector podiatrists in their 2022-2025 Strategy; as Chief Executive Steve Jamieson and Chairman of Council Michelle Scott conclude the following in their opening letter. 

 

“We continue to support 10,000 diverse members in the UK and overseas, and as healthcare workers, podiatrists were on the frontline of the pandemic response providing care to all those who needed it. As a result, it is simply for me to state the fact that the NHS and healthcare systems like it are subject to unprecedented demand on its staff, time, and resources. The same is also true for our vast network of private practitioners.” 

Australia by comparison

By looking towards the UK experience, it reiterates just how systemic these issues are; requiring vast amounts of Government-support and funding if Australia is to truly move the workforce needle. Interestingly, the Australian media are increasingly covering these issues as the scope of workforce shortages across multiple sectors becomes abundantly clear. 

APodA’s plans

Closer to home, we are aware that many members are struggling with recruitment and retention and the APodA is organising a roundtable discussion in response. This discussion will address background research to cover some of these complexities and provide an opportunity to work through these issues. More information on this roundtable discussion and associated next steps will follow in upcoming member communications.

 

In addition, the APodA is working alongside the Australasian Council of Podiatry Deans (ACPD) and you can read more about this collaboration in recent  May and June issues of STRIDE. Our recent Refresh and Reconnect conference in Sydney also showcased subject matter experts – such as Susan Nancarrow, PhD and Anna Couch, PhD – to share their workforce and related insights. Head here to keep an eye out for these presentations.

More information 

If you wish to explore these types of issues alongside the APodA, contact advocacy@podiatry.org.au for more information.

© Copyright 2021 The Australian Podiatry Association

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