It Is A Duty To Care

An article regarding Health and Safety by Karen Cocum-Butler, LLB (Hons), A.Inst.Pa, Assoc Cipd, LLB (Hons)

You may be in receipt of the recent document from the HCPC concerning Standards of conduct, performance and ethics, which I would like to expand upon with regard to health and safety. As long as you are doing everything practicably possible to ensure your service provides the best health and safety for your patients then you are practising to standard. I am sure you are aware that you have a duty of care to yourself and others, (e.g. your patients and the general public) whether at your premises or theirs, such as a patients’ home.

Whilst you carry out your work diligently, have you ever wondered what you would do if something went wrong? The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states you do not have to provide written policies and procedures if you employ less than five people though many chiropodists are self-employed and work alone. However, do you feel it would be good practice to have something in place for ease of reference, which protects your patients and indeed yourself and is something that can be easily provided if someone ever asks, “what did you do in that situation”?

For instance, there is legislation that chiropodists should be aware of including the Health and Safety (Sharp Instruments in Healthcare) Regulations 2013. This ensures risks from the use of sharps (injuries) are adequately assessed and appropriate control measures are in place. These Regulations (from EU law) build on existing law and provides specific details of requirements that must be taken by healthcare employers and their contractors (e.g. self-employed chiropodists). For instance, what would you do if you came across a diabetic who was hyperglycaemic? Whilst I am sure you would know the answer; having a written health and safety policy and procedure would ensure your actions were controlled and it may also help if you were in an unfortunate position of facing a civil claim as the worst scenario.

A health and safety policy will demonstrate that you understand the law and it can provide a Statement of Intent, which ensures you:

  • Provide adequate control of health and safety risks arising from your practice
  • That you do consult with patients on matters affecting their health and safety
  • Adhere to Data Protection and keep every matter confidential
  • Provide and maintain equipment and a s/h working environment
  • Ensure safe handling and use of substances hazardous to health
  • Provide information and instructions to patients where required
  • Carry-out risk assessments where appropriate
  • Prevent accidents relating to your work
  • Ensure CPD
  • Review and revise this document regularly

Without striking any fear into your working practice, I would like to put your mind at rest. I have been a self-employed chiropodist for over sixteen years, which has enabled me to raise my two children (now independent) as a single mother and obtain various qualifications surrounding the employment field. I am now in the process of phasing out my chiropody practice to concentrate on Human Resources and Mediation and yes I do have a written health and safety policy because it supports the health and safety policy I carry round every day in my head.

I am able to deliver a cost-effective workshop regarding how to put a policy together on a 1:1 or group basis, which is cost-effective and could demonstrate your cpd. I can also write further articles and provide other courses on request in line with the medical field or mediation so if you would like further information, please do not hesitate to contact me on 01299 871272. This is my way of giving something back to this valuable and worthy profession.