First official FGM figures for England identify more than 1700 cases at hospitals in past six monthsBMJ 2014; 349 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g6302 (Published 17 October 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g6302
More than 1700 girls and women treated at acute NHS hospital trusts in England were identified over the past six months as having undergone female genital mutilation (FGM), the first official figures1 in a national data programme have shown.
From 1 September 2014 all acute care trusts in England have had to report any patients that they identify as having been subjected to FGM, which is illegal in the United Kingdom. Clinicians are required to record in a patient’s clinical notes that they have identified FGM and its type.
The Female Genital Mutilation Prevalence Dataset is collecting monthly figures as a first step towards understanding how many girls and women undergo the procedure, to inform measures to prevent it. The latest monthly figures from September 2014 showed that 467 patients were newly identified as having undergone FGM when they were seen at acute hospitals. Another 1279 were previously identified from 1 April, when hospitals began recording FGM data voluntarily. Patients that health professionals identify as having undergone FGM are included in the figures, whether they are being treated for a related problem or for another reason.
More than half of all FGM cases were reported by London hospitals: 740 of 1279 up to 1 September, and 252 of 467 during September. The numbers were otherwise evenly spread across the remaining three commissioning regions: Midlands and East of England, North of England, and South of England.
Kingsley Manning, chair of the Health and Social Care Information Centre, which is working with the Department of Health to collect and publish the data, said, “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 its 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.”
The centre noted that the NHS was in a unique position to identify women and girls who have undergone FGM and that the data would be used to improve the NHS’s response to FGM, including the subsequent management of patients and safeguarding girls who are at risk.
Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g6302