We suspected for quite some time the day was coming when the Goldfish would no longer be deemed eligible for NHS podiatry services.
We’d heard rumours about the service being stopped. It had already been drastically cut and the Goldfish was only allowed to have his toenails cut once every twelve weeks. Imagine three months without having your nails cut! We found a private podiatrist who could come in between NHS appointments – but only once as she was already rushed off her feet (sorry, pun wasn’t intended).
The NHS podiatrist assured me the Goldfish would continue to receive regular (12-weekly) appointments. When I told her we’d heard support workers were going to be trained to cut clients’ toenails both in residential homes and for people still living in their own homes. “No,” she said, “it can’t happen. It’s a skilled job. All kinds of things can go wrong if it’s not done properly – infections, in-growing toenails. Podiatrists train for three to four years before they can be registered. You can’t just let anyone do it.”
Turns out they can. In due course a letter arrived saying the Goldfish had been assessed (by whom? When? How?) and was no longer eligible. Every care agency would, apparently be sending staff on two-day training courses to learn how to cut toenails. The private podiatrist was appalled. “Two days?” she repeated when I told her. I trained for four years and I still spend several weeks each year on training courses to keep up to date. Two days!”
None of the Goldfish’s carers were at all keen and either said they hadn’t yet been trained or they did not have time. I can’t say I blamed them. I wouldn’t like to have to do it. Wiping the Goldfish’s behind was one thing – trying to cut his toenails was quite another.
One morning one the Goldfish’s toes was bleeding. The nail had come out of its bed. I phoned the number on the letter and asked how to access the podiatry service. She asked for the Goldfish’s name, address and date of birth and after a short time came back on the line to say he was not eligible. “We don’t run a nail-cutting service, you know.”
I said I understood that and explained about the bloody toe and was told to take the Goldfish to his doctor who would refer him to the podiatrist. As the Goldfish had an excellent GP he was referred and given an appointment the same day.
We were back in the system.