The first-ever official figures published on the number of cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) have revealed that 467 female patients treated at reporting acute NHS hospital trusts in England were identified as having been subjected to the treatment.
The data, from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) also showed that 1,279 female patients previously identified as having been subjected to FGM were being treated at the end of September 2014. Of the 160 acute hospital trusts in England, 125 returned data for September.
These initial figures are a first step towards understanding how many females have been subject to FGM, and Royal College of Midwives’ Professional Policy Advisor Janet Fyle has welcomed the Department of Health’s publication while saying it is also a "wake-up call" for health professionals.
The new monthly data collection sees reporting hospitals submitting information including the numbers of female patients they have newly identified each month as having been subject to FGM and the number treated who were previously identified.
Patients are included in the figures whether they are being treated for something related to FGM or for another reason, provided that FGM has been identified.
HSCIC chair Kingsley Manning added: “This is the first national collection of NHS data about numbers of FGM cases and we will continue to collect and publish these figures.
“Having accurate data about this crime is an important step in helping prevent its occurrence in the future. The information will support the Department of Health in their FGM prevention programme, and we hope to expand the dataset over time so that it provides a more complete picture across a wider variety of care settings.”