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Government launches new measures to prevent FGM

Risk of FGM to be included on child’s health records

Jo Carlowe

Friday, 06 February 2015

New measures to prevent female genital mutilation (FGM) have been announced today, coinciding with International Day of Zero Tolerance. 

The proposals from the Department of Health, Department of Education and Home Office, include a pledge of £1.6 million for the next stage of the FGM prevention programme to improve the NHS response.

Other measures include:            

  • a new national system to allow clinicians to note on a child’s health record that they are potentially at risk of FGM
  • new mandatory recording requirements for GPs and mental health trusts requiring them to record FGM incidence by October 2015. This follows a requirement already in place for NHS acute trusts
  • improved training for frontline health workers on how to communicate sensitively with patients about FGM, through new e-learning sessions launched by Health Education England
  • £2 million for a new national programme backed by Barnardo’s and the Local Government Association to create a team of skilled social workers with experience of working with those at risk of FGM

To mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, the government is hosting a conference bringing together FGM survivors, health professionals, charities and law enforcement.

Public Health Minister Jane Ellison said: “FGM devastates the lives of women and girls and we are committed to ending this brutal practice in one generation. I am immensely proud of this government’s legacy and continued work to end FGM. The measures announced today will help the NHS fulfil its duty to care for women who have had FGM, protect them and their daughters from further harm and prevent girls from being mutilated.”

Meanwhile, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has today launched updated guidance for nurses and midwives and has stated that staff should receive comprehensive training and support to help them tackle FGM.

In its guidance, the RCN calls on employers and the government to ensure that health staff have access to appropriate support. 

The new guidance highlights some of the ways of tackling FGM, such as information sharing across health and social care services, and the education of the public and health care workers to raise awareness.

Launching the guidance, Janet Davies, Director of Nursing at the RCN said: “Many nurses and midwives may be unaware of their legal and professional responsibilities when it comes to the reporting of FGM. This important guidance will bring them up to date, and make clear what they can do to help tackle FGM and help protect their patients.

“Everyone must know that FGM is abuse and must be treated as such. This guidance makes clear that if nurses and midwives suspect that a woman or child is at risk, they should act as they would with any suspected abuse. 

“There is also an onus on employers and the Government to set out what is expected of health and social care staff, and to provide all the education and training they need to carry out their responsibilities in this area.

“Nurses, midwives and other health care staff are well placed to help protect women and girls from this deplorable abuse, but need strong support and thorough training to do so.”

The latest data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre shows that in December 2014 there were 558 newly identified cases of FGM, and 2,146 active cases. 

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