POLITICS

TUC Conference Debates Anti-Austerity Fight For The Health Of British Feet

09/09/2013 17:35 BST | Updated 09/09/2013 18:03 BST
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Office workers wearing casual shoes

Trade unionists are set to consider stepping up their campaign efforts in a bid to save the health of British people's feet.

At the Trades Union Congress conference this week, the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists are calling for Britain's trade unions to fight the damage economic austerity can wreak on people's feet as part of their wider "anti-austerity" campaign.

The professional body previously managed to win the TUC's backing in calling for employers to carry out risk assessments on women wearing high heels in the workplace.

Its latest motion warns that economically inactive people exercise less, and due to their ill health would increase the pressure on the NHS and cost it billions. The podiatrists' body calls for further "preventative measures" to alleviate the strain on the NHS such as investing in more podiatrists.

"Almost every sport and most activity will involve walking, jogging, running or standing. All of these activities need healthy feet, yet we are seeing NHS organisations reducing podiatry...due to the austerity measures that are being forced on the NHS by the current government.

"The country cannot afford to ignore the fact that the cost of inactivity is added pressure on our NHS and is economically wasteful, and blights families who cannot work and are forced into poverty or onto benefits as a result when investment in preventative measures such as more podiatrists and other AHPs would see a reduction in the causes of inactivity in the UK," the motion reads.

In response to the motion, Tory MPs reacted with scepticism. Priti Patel, MP for Witham, told HuffPost UK: “This year’s TUC conference will yet again be filled with the usual left-wing debates from unions defending their vested interests and demanding more money from Britain’s already hard-pressed taxpayers.

"Trade union representatives attending would make a greater contribution to the economy and collective good by being at work rather than debating and endorsing policies which would bankrupt Britain.”

Tory MP David Nuttall said: "Personally, I don’t mind what the TUC choose to debate at their conference and I guess the Members of the SCP would expect nothing less of their Society than to table such a motion.

"Of course it does not alter the fact that at a time when other budgets are being cut the NHS budget is being protected and the reality of life is that there will always be a finite amount of money to spend on our NHS."

Motion 37 - 'Foot Health Of The Nation', from the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists

Preventative care is the key element in keeping the population of the UK active. The cost to the economy and the NHS of an inactive population is enormous in lost productivity and the demand on the NHS as a result.

According to the British Heart Foundation the cost to the economy of type 2 Diabetes was £13bn, including £8.8bn to the NHS in 2012. Obesity costs by 2050 will be £9.7bn to the NHS and £49.9bn to the economy.

Podiatrists and other allied health professionals (AHP) are therefore more in demand than ever before to keep our population healthy. Almost every sport and most activity will involve walking, jogging, running or standing. All of these activities need healthy feet, yet we are seeing NHS organisations reducing podiatry and other AHP posts due to the austerity measures that are being forced on the NHS by the current government.

Congress calls on the General Council to include this vital information and make it part of the wider anti-austerity campaign in the UK. The country cannot afford to ignore the fact that the cost of inactivity is added pressure on our NHS and is economically wasteful, and blights families who cannot work and are forced into poverty or onto benefits as a result when investment in preventative measures such as more podiatrists and other AHPs would see a reduction in the causes of inactivity in the UK.