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NHS attended to 9,000 FGM cases in England last year, report reveals

Category: Gender based violence 

More than 9,000 attendances to NHS services in England last year involved the identification or treatment of female genital mutilation, a report has revealed.


The data, released by NHS Digital and covering the period from April 2016 to March 2017, includes figures from both NHS trusts and GP practices.

The findings show that in the last year there were 9,179 attendances in which FGM was either identified, treatment was given, or a woman with FGM had given birth to a baby girl.

In total, 5,391 attendances were recorded in the system for the first time – 114 of which were girls under the age of 16.

The report reveals only a slight drop on figures from 2016 in which 9,223 attendances were reported in total, of which 6,080 were newly recorded.

Wendy Preston, the head of nursing at the Royal College of Nursing, said that despite heightened discussion of FGM, “the number of women and girls subjected to it is not falling fast enough”.

Preston added that the fall in the number of school nurses in recent years was detrimental to efforts to tackle the issue, and called on the government to attract and retain school nurses.

“Mandatory reporting and compulsory sex and relationships education are important weapons in the fight against FGM, and school nurses play a vital role in both educating children and young women, and spotting those who may be at risk,” she said.

“Yet recent figures show the number of school nurses has fallen 16% since 2010, largely as a result of government cuts to local authority health budgets. It is not right that vulnerable children pay the price for funding reductions and poor workforce planning.”

While only 26% of women and girls involved in newly recorded cases reported the country in which the FGM took place, 1,229 of these cases took place in Africa, while 57 occurred in the UK.

Figures from 2015-16 showed that 18 of the newly recorded cases that year took place in the UK.

Meg Fassam-Wright, the acting director of the National FGM Centre, said that the data was helping to provide a clearer picture of FGM in England.

“It is important that the cases are being identified,” she said of the overall report. “These are often cases of women who have had FGM a number years ago and that their health needs and other needs are potentially being identified through the collection of this data, so we can plan for the future better because these women – some of them – will have long-term health problems as a result of FGM.”

Fassam-Wright added that the report showed that FGM is something which all statutory services need to respond to, both for girls and women.

The FGM Centre, a partnership between Barnardo’s and the Local Government Association, was set up in 2015, but Fassam-Wright said it is in danger of closing.

“We’ve got a number of discussions which are taking place at the present time – we are in the position where unless we get decisions about our funding by 21 July then the centre will unfortunately have to close.”

The fears follow the news in January that the Acton African Well Woman Centre – a London-based clinic for women who have been subjected to FGM – was to be closed due to lack of funding.

A government spokesman said that funding for the National FGM Centre, which was part of the £200m Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme, was not intended to be ongoing, and was instead expected to help establish the service so that it became self-sustaining.

“Protecting women and girls from violence and supporting victims is a key priority for this government and a personal priority for the minister for women and equalities, Justine Greening,” he said.

“We have strengthened the law on this through the Serious Crime Act 2015. It is now an offence if you fail to protect a girl from FGM. We have also created a mandatory reporting duty requiring professionals to report known cases of FGM to the police and have provided lifelong anonymity for victims.”


Tags: FGM England report

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