What’s the difference between a chiropodist and a podiatrist? It’s a question we are often asked

It’s a very good question but the answer isn’t what you would expect, because in reality there is no difference. Nina our Clinical Director has both qualifications so knows that there are no real differences between a chiropodist and a podiatrist. However over the 39 years since she first started her training the profession has changed a great deal.

Nina Neal of Torbay Footcare with her accreditation

Chiropody and Podiatry a Potted History

Our foot health professionals have been known as chiropodists for many centuries, they looked after foot conditions taking over from the corn cutters and barber surgeons. The term chiropodist comes form 2 Greek words chiros meaning hand and podos meaning foot and loosely translates as ‘treating the foot with the hand’ whereas podiatrist means foot doctor in Greek.


With the advent of the NHS in 1948 chiropody was identified as an important profession and after the Professions Supplementary to Medicines Act in 1960 chiropody was brought into the NHS along with other allied medical professions such as physiotherapy and dietetics. Soon after chiropody became an NHS profession some forward thinking young men became dissatisfied with just making people comfortable only to see them return with the same problems in a few weeks. They heard about colleagues in the US operating on ingrowing toenails to cure them and making specialized insoles to change the forces under feet to cure corns and other types of foot pain and even straightening toes. The Americans called themselves podiatrists and they truly were foot doctors. The Australians adopted the term podiatrist in the 1970s, by the 1980’s most English speaking countries called their foot health professionals podiatrist but the UK was slow to follow suit.

By the time Nina qualified in 1983, administering local anaesthesia, nail surgery, biomechanics and looking after diabetic feet were a standard part of the chiropody training under taken at all of the schools of chiropody training chiropodists for the NHS, the first degree course came along 3 years later and by 1993 a degree in podiatric medicine became the standard qualification and all the Schools of Chiropody became Schools of Podiatry. Nina upgraded her qualification to a degree in 2004 and can confirm that the treatments remain the same, it’s the way the course is taught that has changed there being more emphasis on research and evidence.

When Nina brought Torbay Footcare to Dendy Road she was happy to use either title, after all she held both qualifications, she was both a chiropodist and a podiatrist treating patients from all over Torquay, Paignton and Brixham. Indeed before moving into the Dendy Road Surgery she treated people in their own homes. Wishing to use the new title of podiatrist but realising most people wouldn’t know what it meant, her husband Jon came up with the name Torbay Footcare for the new business so everyone would know what she did and where she went.

A year ago in 2018 our professional body changed their name from The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists to The College of Podiatry.

Chiropodist and podiatrist are protected titles, we are only allowed to use them if we are registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), a government body which has regulated most of the NHS health professions since 2006.

Torbay Footcare is an Accredited Practice with The College of Podiatry, the only practice in Devon to have this prestigious award. We are a forward thinking practice always keen to make the best new techniques available to the people of Torbay. We still excel at all the traditional chiropody treatments, but we will also offer you the latest evidence based advice on how to get better.

So for the best chiropodist or podiatrist serving Torquay, Paignton Brixham and the surrounding area, look no further than Torbay Footcare.

To make an appointment please call the surgery on 01803 521880.

If you have any questions about foot health please contact us.

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