Podiatrist: I’d go to jail to protect my patients

Mark Russell
Mark Russell
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A podiatrist says he is prepared to go to prison to highlight what he claims is a major flaw in the regulation of his profession.

Mark Russell has been a registered podiatrist for more than 30 years, and last year was convicted of misusing the title podiatrist after he took himself off the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) register.

Mr Russell, of Westby Road, St Annes, says his deregistration was in protest against the HCPC’s failure to protect patients from clinicians who have been struck off for misconduct.

After pleading guilty to an offence with intent to deceive at the City of London Magistrates he was fined £270 and ordered to pay a £27 victim surcharge as well as costs totalling more than £6,000 in November.

Mr Russell is appealing his sentence and is waiting for a hearing at the Old Bailey.

The HCPC registers all chiropodists and podiatists as “protected titles”, which means anyone qualified to work as such must be registered.

But people working as foot health specialists or podologists do not need to register, meaning there is no check on their qualifications or practicing history.

Mr Russell said: “I am trying to show up a failing in this profession because the HCPC is supposed to be enforcing standards.

“If someone is struck off for malpractice or serious lack of profession there should be some form of scrutiny, and the fact there isn’t needs to be made public.”

Mr Russell moved offices from one practice in St Annes to set up his own in the same area. It was at that point the HCPC started to take action against him for using a protected title without being registered.

“If my appeal is not successful I will not be paying the fine, he said.

“I face going to prison and I am happy to do that if it means exposure about the whole thing. This is an important issue. I’ve been in the profession for 30 years and I live for what I do.”

Mr Russell, 52, said as soon as he deregistered, he wrote to the HCPC to tell them what he had done.

He said he would have reregistered if the council had responded and agreed to look into changing the regulation.

The HPCP declined to comment on Mr Russell’s case while the appeal process is ongoing.

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