Pioneer Podiatry student has first UON placements in prisons

A trailblazing Podiatry student at University of Northampton (UON) has followed in her father’s footsteps after completing a new clinical placement option in prisons and secure facilities.

Claire Eyles, who is in the final year of her degree, is the first student to take the opportunity to gain unique experience and knowledge that she feels will enhance her future practice.

This new clinical placement option for UON’s students is the brainchild of UON Associate Lecturer in Podiatry Helen Linden.

Helen is also Clinical Lead Podiatrist for Secured Services Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire at Northamptonshire Healthcare Foundation Trust (NHFT).

Prisoners receive healthcare – such as lower limb treatment – as with any member of the population and Helen has provided podiatry treatment within secure facilities for more than 10 years.

Claire signed up for the placements straightaway, as she explains: “When the news came that this placement was being developed, Helen said she wanted the right person because not everyone would ‘fit’ working in a secure facility.

“I knew I was that right person because my Dad worked as a prison officer in Liverpool for many years, so I grew up being quite used to hearing about that environment. It didn’t seem strange to me at all and that’s pretty much how I found the placements. Safety was, of course, already built-in, but I never felt unsafe. They were my patients, and I was there to provide treatment, that’s all.”

The placements mean Claire’s skills have extended to include managing her own caseload, following patients along their treatment journey, and upskilling in other podiatric areas.

She concludes: “This has been a great opportunity, in terms of experience and exposure. If you work in NHS, you could settle in one area of podiatry. But, in a prison or secure unit setting, you don’t deskill as you get to do it all.

“The experience of seeing NHS healthcare provision in a different setting has increased my learning experience. Helen is very experienced in this field and was willing to let me be hands on. There’s a real variety of lower limb health issues so you get a mix of everything, which is what I want to be exposed to.”