Press Release

Establishment of a School of Podiatry in Ireland.

The Minister for Health and Children, Ms Mary Harney T.D., and the Minister for Education and Science, Ms Mary Hanafin, T.D., today (25th January 2007) announced funding for a new degree programme and associated clinic for the education of Podiatrists (Chiropodists) in Ireland.

The Higher Education Authority has issued a Call for Proposals to Higher Education Institutions working in partnership with a health care provider, for the establishment of a School of Podiatry in Ireland.

Funding will be provided by both Ministers to the Higher Education Authority and the Health Service Executive for the establishment of the School and the associated clinical education elements.

The School of Podiatry, once established, will provide a 4 year degree program leading to a BSc in Podiatry. An annual intake of 25 students is planned. It is proposed that as part of this initiative a “Podiatry Clinic” be developed by the HSE within an existing health service setting, to work in partnership with the Higher Education Institution. This clinic will provide most of the clinical education or training requirements of the programme. Clinical education will comprise approximately 25% of the programme, hence the importance of strong collaboration between the Education and Health sectors.

There is at present no undergraduate podiatry programme available in Ireland and potential podiatry / chiropody students must travel abroad for training. A number of those graduates do not return to practise in Ireland.

The FAS Skills and Labour Market Research Unit “Healthcare Skills Monitoring Report” of August 2005 identified Podiatry as an occupation with long term supply shortfalls and recommended that a BSc in Podiatry be set up.

The Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney, T.D., said that she was delighted to be making funds available to support the clinical requirements of the programme.

“I have made it a priority to put the funding for this clinic in place now. The population is aging and we are also experiencing a dramatic growth in diabetes. This is increasing the need for podiatrists. I want to make sure that older people are fully supported with community-based health services to live independently in their own homes.

Podiatrists can make a big difference to people’s mobility and therefore their quality of life. This applies not just to people as they get older but also to people with illnesses such as Diabetes. The availability of podiatry services has been shown internationally to improve or maintain the mobility of older persons and reduce the requirement for more extensive health services.”

The Minister for Education and Science, Mary Hanafin, T.D, also welcomed the initiative saying “The development of this new School of Podiatry will provide a hugely welcome new opportunity for Irish school leavers who have ambitions to pursue a career in this field and who would otherwise have to go abroad to complete their studies. It also marks an important response from the education sector to an identified and growing need in our health services for these skills. I am delighted to be able to make the necessary funding available on the education side to allow for this development to now proceed.”