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Caithness podiatry expert Sandra Jones takes a step back after 46 years on her toes

By John Davidson

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Sandra Jones at her retirement.
Sandra Jones at her retirement.

A Caithness-based health worker is ready to put her feet up after 46 years in the profession.

Sandra Jones, the north health board's podiatry diabetes coordinator, has worked in the field for nearly half a century, with the last 36 spent in the Highlands.

Colleagues wished her well this month and said the "committed health care professional" would leave a legacy not only in the far north but across the region.

Sandra graduated from the Edinburgh Foot Clinic and School of Chiropody in 1976 and started work at the Wick Medical Centre before a move to NHS England a year later.

Ten years later she was back at the Wick Medical Centre after her husband secured a job as an analytical chemist based at Dounreay.

Sandra said: “The podiatry profession was moving forward very quickly and I have always been a strong advocate for professional development.

“I was one of the first Allied Health Professionals (AHP) in NHS Highland to become an accredited clinical leader having completed the clinical leadership course under the tutelage of Jenny Lobban, Karen Hamilton and Stephen Loch in 2005.

"I was also one of the first AHPs in NHS Highland to become an Independent Prescriber in 2008 and one of the first podiatrists to be elected as a Fellow of the Royal College of Podiatrists in Podiatric Medicine in 2011.

“In 2003 my role changed from being a generalist podiatrist to become podiatry diabetes coordinator. This involved not only representing Highland, and remote and rural services, on various national diabetes working groups, it also allowed me to influence the strategic outcomes from those groups and bring that back to podiatry and diabetes services across NHS Highland.

"My interest in diabetes began following the diagnosis of both my children with Type 1 diabetes when they were three years old – they are 37 and 33 now.”

She added: “Clinically I’ve been the lead podiatrist for the multi-disciplinary diabetes foot service delivered from Raigmore. I have worked with the Caithness and Sutherland diabetes team and supported Caithness General’s vascular outpatient clinics. All of this has ensured I maintained Highland-wide links, benefitting patients and professionals equally."

Sandra also delivered in-house annual seminars for podiatrists, the diabetes foot education network, and was part of the diabetes education and training group. She was also chairperson of the Highland Branch of the Royal College of Podiatry for several years.

Colleagues were quick to wish Sandra all the best in her retirement.

Professor Sandra MacRury, honorary consultant diabetologist and endocrinologist based at Raigmore Hospital, said: “Sandra has been a wonderful colleague and it has been an absolute pleasure and privilege to work with such a long-serving and committed health care professional over the years as the Highland Diabetes Foot service has evolved.

"Sandra’s drive and insight has been crucial in the development of the multi-disciplinary patient-centred approach to foot care across Highland region and as a contributor to diabetes foot care strategies at a national level.

"Sandra will be hugely missed by the diabetes service however she has been a great role model and mentor for her colleagues ensuring the legacy of a well-established and enthusiastic diabetes foot team.”

Iona McGauran, lead nurse at Raigmore Hospital (now retired), said: “Sandra is the ultimate professional and has been highly respected by her colleagues. She is an excellent role model and it is clear the support she gives to other podiatrists within the service.”

Rebecca Banks, podiatry professional lead, north division, NHS Highland, added: “The north podiatry team (Caithness and Sutherland) and NHS Highland podiatry would like to wish Sandra the very best on her retirement. Sandra has been an integral part of NHS Highland podiatry and has played a vital role in shaping the service to better meet the needs of our patients, particularly with regard to diabetes care.

"Sandra has always been willing to share her extensive knowledge and has offered support and encouragement to everyone she has worked with – these qualities meant Sandra was also a very effective representative for NHS Highland podiatry on a local and national level.

"Whilst there is sadness as Sandra moves onto the next exciting stage of her life, she should also be incredibly proud of her role within a team that will continue to provide the best quality of care to patients throughout the Highlands.”

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