Podiatry team provided life-saving service during lockdown

Date 12.06.2020

Lockdown may have closed most of the University of Northampton’s buildings, but one health team remained on call providing a vital, life-saving service for the community.

The Podiatry Clinic is situated next door to Northampton General Hospital and doesn’t know the meaning of a ‘quiet day’.

During business-as-usual periods, upwards of 100 patients can be seen each day by the team’s lecturers, supported by UON podiatry students. On average, 20 people receive a consultation each hour.

Lockdown meant the clinic closed its doors for general appointments, but part of the team remained on-call for patients. They either gave advice remotely or came into the clinic to provide direct care to those deemed at high risk of developing more serious complications and who required urgent treatment.

During this time, the team gave advice to or directly saw over 250 patients.

The majority of these patients had serious foot and lower leg ulcers. Without the Podiatry team being on hand to help, it could have resulted in serious, debilitating lower limb conditions and, in one case, a possible amputation.

One of these patients is Michael Torpy. He said: “The service provided by the clinic during the pandemic has been exceptional. The concern shown for my wellbeing could not have been better and the diagnosis meant that the wound on my toe has been responding to the correct medication and treatment. I cannot praise the clinic staff enough. The residents of Northampton are extremely lucky to have such an excellent clinic available.”

Now the country is slowly returning to normality the clinic also starts a gradual return to its previous working practice, ‘re-opening’ its doors earlier this week.  But new, national procedures will change the running of the clinic to provide a safe environment for patients and staff.

For the foreseeable future patients will need to remain in their cars before entering the clinic. Temperature checks will be carried out at the door and those with high temperatures will need to return home.

Patients must also wear a face mask and will need to wash their hands when inside the clinic which, with tall, protective Perspex screens and seating placed two metres apart, will look slightly different to the clinic they are used to.

Staff members will also need to undergo temperature checks, wear the correct PPE – as modelled in the photo by Dan Watson, Specialist Podiatrist – and clean clinical and waiting room surfaces between each patient.

Senior Lecturer in Podiatry Manju Mital explains: “We are far from being able to see anything remotely approaching the number of patients we used to, so it’s really important people bear this in mind if they book to see us.

“Strict social distancing measures and others have to be observed, so we will have to carefully manage the number of people in the reception area and clinic at any one time.

“It’s been a long few weeks but – and I speak for all of my colleagues as well as myself when I say this – seeing a patient come through our doors in discomfort and leave walking tall again is why we are in podiatry.

“We know things have been tough of late, so we ask that for the next few weeks and months our patients to continue being as understanding as they have been as the clinic slowly returns to normality.”

Find out more about Podiatry at the University of Northampton.