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FGM guidelines released

Guidelines to deal with female genital mutilation (FGM) in healthcare have been released by the Department of Health (DH) and NHS England.

Since April 2014 it has been mandatory to record signs of FGM in a patient's clinical record, but the guidelines clarify what is to be done if FGM is identified following “confusion” among NHS staff.

The guidelines state, “If any child (under-18s) or vulnerable adult in your care has symptoms or signs of FGM, or if you have good reason to suspect they are at risk of FGM having considered their family history or other relevant factors, they must be referred using standard existing safeguarding procedures.

“This is initially often to the local Children's Services or the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub, though local arrangements may be in place.”

 

However, the guidelines also reinforce that there is no need for staff to ask every patient whether they have undergone FGM, although professionals should be aware of risk factors.

The guidelines state: “When a patient is identified as being at risk of FGM, this information must be shared with the GP and health visitor as part of safeguarding actions.”

It has been estimated that over 20,000 girls under the age of 15 are at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the UK each year, and that 66,000 women in the UK are living with the consequences of FGM.

The guidelines also highlight how frontline healthcare staff are key in protecting young girls against the procedure.

 

They state “It remains best practice to share information between healthcare professionals to support the ongoing provision of care and efforts to safeguard women and girls against FGM.

“For example, after a woman has given birth, it is best practice to include information about her FGM status in the discharge summary record sent to the GP and Health Visitor, and to include that there is a family history of FGM within the Personal Child Health Record.”