fgmFollowing a successful pilot earlier this year, two GPs are now aiming to launch a new training course to address the issue of domestic violence and female genital mutilation (FGM). The GPs hope to empower GPs and practice nurses with the confidence and knowledge to proactively tackle the issue and support FGM survivors.

An estimated 20,000 girls under the age of 15 are at risk of FGM in the UK each year, while a known 66,000 women are living with the consequences of it. However, this figure is likely to be much greater, due to the large number of women living with FGM but unknown to GPs and healthcare professionals. Consequently, the Department of Health has started to collect data from acute hospitals and GP surgeries to understand the prevalence of FGM in the UK.

All GPs and GP trainees are currently required to go through Level 3 Safeguarding Children training, usually through the Local Safeguarding Children Board or other such trainers, but this is currently multi-disciplinary and does not always cover domestic violence and FGM.

As a result, two London-based GPs – Dr Neera Dholakia (West London CCG) and Dr Sharon Raymond (Croydon CCG) – have developed a Level 3 Safeguarding Children training programme with a focus on domestic violence and FGM.

The GPs successfully piloted the training programme in May this year, and having considered the feedback are now looking to find funding to roll out the training across London. In total, 13 GP trainees and 1 practicing GP attended the course, with everyone reporting an increase in confidence when dealing with FGM and domestic abuse issues.

Watch Dr Raymond and other FGM experts speak about the issue at Preventing Female Genital Mutilation: A Safeguarding issue for professionals working in health, education, social care and the police on 9 December - click here to book your place

The course was evaluated using a 15-question 4-point Likert scale taken before and after the training (no confidence, a little confidence, fairly confident, mostly confident) to assess knowledge awareness and skills. There was a “statistically significant” increase, equating to 27% rise (from 56% to 83%) in skills after the training compared to before.

“There tends to be a lack of clarity among healthcare professionals regarding the nature and frequency of mandatory safeguarding children training they should be undertaking,” said Dr Raymond.

“The training we run covers the key mandatory competencies required for Level 3 Safeguarding Children training as set by the Intercollegiate guidelines. Furthermore, the training addresses the relationship between child and adult safeguarding by focusing on important adult safeguarding issues, such as FGM and domestic violence, which constitute adult abuse but impact significantly on children and their safety.”

Confident Safeguarding, the social enterprise set up by Dr Raymond and Dr Dholakia to run the training events, have since ran a further two Level 3 Safeguarding Children training events in October and November 2014, providing specialist training for 28 GP and practice nurse participants.