GPs report FGM as thousands of cases identified in 2015/16

Over 5,700 cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) were identified or first recorded over the last year, according to figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

Reporting FGM: GPs are required to report suspected cases (Photo: iStock)
Reporting FGM: GPs are required to report suspected cases (Photo: iStock)

The statistics, published by HSCIC for the first time earlier this month, reveal that a total of 38 GP practices and 112 NHS trusts submitted one or more FGM attendance record. It became mandatory for GPs to report cases of FGM in October 2015 and for hospitals from July 2015.

GPs submitted 1.6% of overall new cases. Updated guidance released in May pressed GPs to raise the subject of FGM in consultations with patients they believe could be at risk from the procedure.

More than half (52%) of all cases related to women and girls from within the London NHS commissioning region.

But GP practices in the north of England were the most likely to report incidences of FGM with 16 doing so, compared with 11 in the Midlands and east of England, six in London and five in the south of England.

FGM reporting

HSCIC stressed that the data should be interpreted with caution as the ‘data completeness is low and varies by submitter’, suggesting the statistics are an underestimate.

The majority of girls and women with a known pregnancy status were pregnant (87%) when FGM was recorded.

Nearly all (98%) were over 18 years old when their first attendance was recorded, with self-report being the most frequent method of FGM identification (73%).

Almost two fifths (47%) had been born in Somalia in eastern Africa, with other common countries including Eritrea in eastern Africa, the Sudan in northern Africa and Nigeria and the Gambia in western Africa.

FGM data collection

Just 43 of newly recorded cases involved women and girls who said they had been born in the UK.

Most underwent the procedure abroad, with just 18 newly recorded cases carried out in the UK.

HSCIC statistician Peter Knighton said: 'This is the first time that annual data have been collected and published to give an insight into the practice and prevalence of FGM in England.

'The resulting data will support the DH's FGM prevention programme and improve the NHS response to FGM by raising awareness, enabling the provision of services and management of FGM, and safeguarding girls at risk.'

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