NHS Footwear

Guidelines for clients who are entitled to NHS prescribed footwear.           




It is important to note that whilst The Cordwainer is happy to work alongside all Health Service providers, the provision of footwear through the NHS is at the sole discretion of the clinician/orthotic department concerned.


Some NHS service providers are happy to have The Cordwainer provide a service for their patients while others will only use their established suppliers. As The Cordwainer is not currently contracted through NHS procurement arrangements, this might influence the decision whether or not to use The Cordwainer as a supplier.


I have no desire to supply any specific hospital with an extensive footwear service, only to be able to take on specific patients where for any reason the correct footwear has not been able to be provided.


If you have not had footwear from the NHS before. 


There are two possible routes to the service you need.  If you are not under a specialist or consultant, you must first see your GP who will refer you to your local service provider. Usually you will first see a Specialist Consultant related to your disability who will then prescribe the footwear you need, then pass you on to the Orthotic or Surgical Appliance Department who are responsible for the provision of the footwear. Here an Orthotist will measure you for footwear and the Head of Department will decide which supplier will be most suitable for the supply of the footwear. 


If you are already under the care of a consultant they might well refer you directly to the Orthotic or Surgical Appliance Department. In any case you would have to explain why you would wish me to make your footwear rather than the service provided by the hospital.  From my experience it is unlikely you will have footwear made by me in this instance.


If you have had footwear from the NHS before.


If you are happy with your existing footwear then the service provider will assess your need for further footwear. If you have not been happy with the footwear you have been wearing, you should make this known to the clinic where you received the service and give them the opportunity to make what alterations are required to correct the problem. If the problems cannot be resolved then each hospital will have a Patient Support Manager who will take on your complaint and seek to remedy any problem.


If the problems cannot be resolved through these means then you have the choice to have your shoes made privately or ask if the hospital / service provider would consider using The Cordwainer as the supplier for your footwear. They will then make the decision based on clinical need and financial implications whether or not they wish to use The Cordwainer as a supplier.


If you have had footwear privately but seek future footwear through the NHS.


Occasionally private clients ask if future items of footwear could be made through the NHS. Again it is at the discretion of the service provider if they will authorise the work to be done by The Cordwainer, based on the above criteria. Experience shows that hospitals are keen to provide a good service to their patients and in most cases this has been allowed but it is at the discretion of the service provider.


Why is The Cordwainer not an “approved” or contracted to the NHS.


We have therefore taken the decision to remain outside of NHS procurement until purchasing policy changes, a decision which seems justified as an increasing number of hospitals and clinics are using The Cordwainer as a supplier based on the excellent record we have of making footwear for clients with disabilities. It is accepted that The Cordwainer is unique in its ability to “troubleshoot” problems and stands alone in the North West of England as an accessible and affordable provider of highly specialised orthopaedic footwear.


Do you have to be an approved supplier to work for the NHS?


According to the Department of Health there is no approval or registration process other than the process where companies can tender for contracts from the NHS. Most hospitals and NHS Trusts have contracts with manufacturers, either solely or arranged through regional procurement agencies.


Hospitals are however allowed within (most) contracts to find a non-contracted supplier when their own contracted supplier is unable to supply a product for any reason.


Further information.


The British Polio Fellowship has produced a range of leaflets which you may find helpful. They are:

  • Orthotics, What have I a right to expect from my NHS service.

  • Surgical footwear through the NHS.

  • Callipers and insoles through the NHS.

  • Problems with footwear and orthoses.


These leaflets are available from:


The British Polio Fellowship. Eagle Office Centre, The Runway, South Ruislip, Middlesex, HA4 6SE.  Tel: 020 8842 0555








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