My Dad’s a Goldfish – trouble with feet


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.


27 thoughts on “My Dad’s a Goldfish – trouble with feet

  1. Oh, Mary, I can’t bear to think of how much pain he must have been in with a nail coming right out like that.
    Why is there so much red tape – as if families don’t have enough to deal with without having to take crash courses in the NHS

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s all about saving money, Julie. I’ll maybe do another post on the follow up. You wouldn’t believe what wonderful attention he got when he was back in the system. I suspect the staff hadn’t very much to do after so many elderly people had been tossed out of the system.


  2. This brings so many issues to mind–advocating for loved ones and dealing with red tape chief among them. I don’t live in the UK with NHS, but instead I live in the US where the cost of providing such services can be overwhelming even for those with insurance. I wish there was a better way for all of us. Best of luck to you and your family. I hope your father is not suffering from pain in his feet right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments. I know we are very lucky here in many respects with the NHS and I understand there are huge stresses on it as we live longer and require more services but what bothers me is they way they hit the most vulnerable when they start trying to save money.
      Thanks for your good wishes. My dad passed away just before Christmas 2014. I had started blogging about caring for him but he died before I’d told the whole story. I thought about stopping the blog but a lot of people asked me to continue with dad’s story. I hope it is of help to others.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m so sorry. I didn’t know. This is the first of your blogs I’ve read and I didn’t look to see if it had a date on it. I hope your father was at peace and not in pain when he passed. I often think that if only the government would hire me to tell them where to save money and where to spend it, I’d tell them some things they don’t want to hear.

        I’m so glad you’ve continued with your father’s story.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Last week in Spain I had a lovely mani-pedi. (Hand and foot massage and all nails trimmed for €15..) All the staff spoke Vietnamese so I couldn’t ask if they had each trained for four years to learn how to trim nails…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, Mary, the frustrations and unfair (nonsensical, in many cases) medical situations just never end. We always end up solving the problem, but finding the solutions is often adding so much more stress onto the caregiver. It can end up consuming all of your time. And imagine if these poor patients don’t have advocates to help them!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good to hear from you Nancy. My sister and I used to say exhasution was our default mode. It seemed one problem would be resolved only for two more to appear.
      I am sure there must be many, many people with no one to advocate for them who lose out – doesn’t bear thinking about.


  5. I’m sorry to hear about the cutbacks to the service. It’s clear that if it takes four years to train someone to do a job properly, a weekend course is not going to be an adequate replacement. It seems to be inviting blunders galore. You have to wonder if this is another of those cases where a short-term saving now just stores up massive amounts of pain, trouble and expense for thousands down the road.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The disposal of the Crichton Royal, where there was a number of geriatric units from acute admission to high dependency, must be a huge miss. All the patients needs were met – including on site chiropody!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for dropping by and comenting Eileen. Good to hear from you. Yes, the Crichton Royal is missed for many reasons. Dad lived in his own home – which is what ‘they’ want more elderly people to do – then they cut the services they need!
      Hope you are keeping well.


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