NHS digital have yesterday (Tuesday 6th September) released the latest experimental statistics which support the Department of Health’s FGM prevention programme in England.
The key findings for the second quarter of 2016 (April –June) show that there were 2,029 attendances at NHS Trusts and GP practices where FGM was identified or a procedure for FGM was undertaken. There were also 1,293 women and girls in England who had their FGM information collected in the Enhanced Dataset for the first time. 80 Trusts and 26 GP practices submitted one or more FGM attendance record for this second quarter.
Almost half of all cases relate to women and girls from London; 47% of newly recorded cases and 47% of total attendances. Outside of London, an average of 10 or more newly recorded cases per month were recorded in Birmingham (120 women and girls), Bristol (75), Manchester (65) and Sheffield (50) local authorities.
Commenting on the findings, Janet Fyle, professional policy advisor at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), said: “The RCM commends the Department of Health for the regular collecting and reporting on FGM data. However, it is disappointing to see that so many services in England have not provided data that could have been included in these statistics, as this would enable us to plan and provide appropriate services for survivors.
“Regardless of the practice environment, it is vital that in all areas across England where vulnerable women and children present to services, or at NHS Trusts or GP practices where FGM is identified, that the correct support services are in place.
“In particular we must address the need for physiological support services for survivors of FGM which must be culturally appropriate. Unfortunately there are discrepancies in this area of care that still remain, and uneven spread of services across the south of England.
“The RCM also remains concerned about the over-reliance on London-specific data presented in this latest report in addition to the newly recorded cases of FGM which have been identified in girls under 18 years of age.
“Midwives are one of the key frontline healthcare professions in detecting and helping to prevent female genital mutilation, but all healthcare professionals need to be vigilant in identifying those at risk.
“The RCM has been providing its members with improved learning resources such as i-learn tutorials, along with practical advice and support to enable them to continue identifying women and children at risk of FGM or indeed survivors of FGM.
“Also, the community clearly has a role to play in ending FGM, but the state cannot abdicate its responsibilities for ending FGM. We owe a duty to the girls who continue to be victims of FGM.”