§ Mr. Swayne
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement about the provision of chiropody and podiatry services in the south-east of England in(a) 1997 and (b) 2000. 
§ Jacqui Smith
The Government are aware that chiropody and podiatry services play a vital role in helping to maintain people's independence. For older people especially, we see these services as having a strong preventative role in helping them maintain their mobility and may enable them to stay in their homes rather than move prematurely to a residential care or nursing home. Chiropodists and podiatrists have been involved in developing the national service frameworks for older people and diabetes to ensure adequate standards for these services.
The Government recognise that, in common with the rest of the country, the south-east needs more chiropodists and podiatrists. We are committed to recruiting more allied health professionals, which includes chiropodists/ 142W podiatrists, through the NHS Plan targets and will build on the 6,500 extra allied health professionals as announced in the 2002 Budget. £3 million was allocated in 2001–02 to modernise allied health professionals education and training programmes. Chiropody and podiatry were among the first group of specialities to be addressed.