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School nurses needed to tackle FGM

A huge increase in school nurse numbers could be key to stopping female genital mutilation (FGM), a union has claimed. 

School nurses are in an excellent position to evaluate FGM matters and provide practical help, Unite has said. 

However, Unite's Community and Practitioners' and Health Visitors' Association believes additional training could be vital. 

Obi Amadi, Unite lead professional officer, welcomed the fact that FGM and the permanent damage it does to females in later years has leapt to the head of the political agenda after years of campaigning.

She said: “This is a complex area with layers of cultural sensitivities which pose challenges to health professionals, including health visitors and school nurses.”

Amadi added that school nurses should be at the forefront of any FGM campaign, but warned that 3,000-6,000 more nurses are needed.

There are only 1,169 full-time qualified school nurses in England, compared to 4,000 secondary schools in the UK.

New statistics suggest that 66,000 women in England and Wales have suffered FGM and 23,000 girls below the age of 15 are at risk.

A new £100,000 fund has been launched to help charities raise awareness of FGM in the community. 

Crime prevention minister Norman Baker said: The law in this country applies to absolutely everyone and political or cultural sensitivities must not get in the way of preventing, uncovering and prosecuting those who instigate and carry out FGM.”