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Toenail Service for Elderly Cut

BBC News

United Kingdom

January 13, 2006



A home toenail trimming service for the elderly in Powys has been cut back by health officials. 

A health watchdog has warned that pensioners with arthritis or without a family to help could become housebound. 

It claimed that long toenails could restrict senior citizens' mobility. 

But Powys Local Health Board said podiatrists were a "scarce resource" and it was advising people about how to snip their nails. It said it did not know how many people will be affected. 

Brecon and Radnorshire Community Health Council said it was concerned by the decision, which also affects fingernail cutting. 

Chief officer Bryn Williams said: "Members of the health council fear that senior citizens could become housebound as long toenails could reduce their mobility. 

"People with arthritis who can't bend down to cut their toenails may not have a husband or wife who can bend down. Perhaps they don't have family who live locally either. 

"People relied on this service." 

Powys LHB said it was "inappropriate" to use the service of podiatrists "to cut nails that are not causing pain or harm". 

The spokesman added: "The service has been revised to ensure that those patients most at risk have access to clinically appropriate and timely services. 

"Patients currently accessing the service for simple or routine nail cutting are being advised on methods to achieve their nail care independently or with the help of a relative/carer. 

"They are also being advised that if they have a problem with their feet they can re-access the service at any time through the normal channels and their treatment will be reviewed." 

Podiatrist Kevin Hill, of the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, said: "Long nails can not only be uncomfortable and a source of irritation, they can have a detrimental affect on a person's dignity. 

"Neglect of nails can in time lead to foot ulcers either under the nail if the nail becomes thickened or on the next toe and this can become a source of infection. 

"The other problem, with having no-one to cut your nails if you cannot attend to them yourself, is that other problems may go unrecognised. 

"This can especially be a problem for someone with diminished sensation in the feet." 

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