As part of our series focusing on the different roles and careers available in ELFT, the spotlight has  turned to the foot health service. Jay Sooruyah is a Senior Podiatrist working in the Newham Foot Health Service. Read on to find out what she gets up to in an average day.

What time does your day start?
Travelling to work in London by car is a challenge due to lack of carpark spaces and traffic jams. I therefore catch public transport and use the train to commute. I leave home an hour and a half before the clinic start time which is usually 9.00am.

Having breakfast is important to keep up energy as our clinics are booked  back to back. There is a lot of walking involved in travelling between community clinics and various hospital departments.

What is the first thing you do on arrival at work? 
I usually check the rota for the clinic I am allocated to which varies from: outpatient, nail surgery, nail surgery post-operative redressing, triage, A&E, musculoskeletal, high risk foot, hospital wards, renal unit, consultant outpatient clinics, rheumatology, domiciliary visits in patients’ own house, in residential and nursing homes or as clinical educator in the University of East London Podiatric Medicine.

When time permits, I'll catch up with colleagues to talk about caseload experience, hand over important information to the administration staff, check messages/emails and hear their news. In preparation for each clinic, time is allocated to setting up the environment and checking the notes of the patients booked in that session.

What does your service offer?
Patients are referred to the foot health service by their GP, other health care professionals or as a self-referral. A duty podiatrist triages all referrals to determine which patients are eligible and not eligible by the access code criteria.

Patients’ age groups range from 5 years old to the very elderly. Typical presentations can be nail and skin pathologies, calluses, corns, heel pain, foot pain, sport injuries, bunions, lesser toes deformities, leg length discrepancies, peripheral neuropathy, congenital foot deformities, polio, chilblains, athlete foot, cramps, pins and needles, burning sensation, joint pain, plantar fasciitis and blisters.

Acute scenarios that require urgent actions are deep vein thrombosis, ankle sprains, tendon injuries, fractures, joints inflammation, in-growing toenails, lower limbs infection like cellulitis, diabetic foot infections, gangrene, diabetic foot ulcers and osteomyelitis. Many patients have problems with their mobility and have to wear special footwear, hosiery or insoles and orthotics to aid them to walk and be as independent as possible. Some patients can have additional concerns such as being homeless, have mental health problems, be obese, require palliative or end of life care or have medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis  that incapacitate them to care for their feet.

What is the key objective of your role when you assess someone?  Gathering information to make differential diagnosis or confirm a diagnosis to form a treatment plan or make onward referrals to members of the multi-disciplinary team like podiatric surgeon, GP, district nurses, physiotherapists, vascular surgeons, x-ray department.

How do you support individuals and their families when there is a serious foot issue?
Families and carers can be quite stressed and distressed so they require reassurance by foot health specialists through communicating clearly to them what the issues is and why you we are concerned. We will provide a clear explanation, provide written information and organise the next steps in securing further investigation and treatment

What’s the funniest or strangest thing that’s happened to you in your role?
People often asked if they should remove their footwear. This always makes me smile as it is the ONLY way to look at their feet!

What do you bring to the team that is different from the other participants?
I would like to think my past experience working in acute setting within the NHS as a ward nursing sister for 18 years has benefited myself, patients, relatives, colleagues and the organisation.

What has been the feedback from families?
Families are usually grateful when seen in clinics and comments passed are: “She will be walking on air now”.

What time do you finish work?
Officially 5pm is finishing time for work. However clinics can run over due to patients attending late, delay in transport collecting patients, treatment going above the time allocated, occasional incidents,  and the need to send letters out.

How do you relax after work?
I unwind walking to the train station, reading the Metro newspaper on my way home, chatting, listening to music, attending gym and watching TV.

What attracted you to  working in the field of Podiatry?
Choosing podiatry as a profession appealed to me on many levels. It is a highly specialised area of the health care profession which does not exist yet in many parts of the world, so it feels unique. I enjoy training podiatrists in the University. I also like the hours - I always have weekends and bank holidays off! These are skills that give you the ability to work for the NHS or in the private sector. But mainly, I like working with patients on a one to one basis and making a difference in people’s quality of life.

Why do you keep on doing your job?
Podiatrists are often asked “how do you do feet, I cannot stand them, why podiatry”. My analogy is - where would a car be without its wheels? It's the same for feet and one’s body.

I come to work every day feeling proud of what I do as a foot health specialist.

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