GP legal duty to report FGM takes effect this month

GPs will be legally obliged to report suspected cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) in patients aged under 18 from 31 October.

Changes to the FGM Act 2003 that take effect from the end of the month introduce a 'mandatory reporting duty' for all regulated health and social care professionals in England and Wales.

GPs were already subject to a professional requirement to report suspected FGM to the police, under GMC guidance.

The updated legislation means GPs should report to the police any 'known' cases of FGM in patients aged under 18 that they encounter in the course of their professional work.

Read more: Treating potential victims of domestic violence

Home Office guidance says the duty to report suspected FGM to the police applies where health professionals 'are informed by a girl under 18 that an act of FGM has been carried out on her, or observe physical signs which appear to show that an act of FGM has been carried out on a girl under 18 and they have no reason to believe that the act was necessary for the girl’s physical or mental health or for purposes connected with labour or birth'.

The duty to report does not apply where patients over 18 report that FGM was carried out on them, even if it took place before they were 18.

The guidance makes clear that reporting FGM 'does not breach any confidentiality requirement or other restriction on disclosure which might otherwise apply'.

BMA guidance also warns GPs that in any case where a doctor suspects a patient may be at risk of FGM, they should immediately contact either the police, social services or the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).

Photo: iStock

Read the Home Office guidance

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Just published

GP consultation

GP practices delivering 150,000 extra appointments per day compared with 2019

GP practices in England delivered 150,000 more appointments per working day in the...

Surgeon looking at a monitor in an operating theatre

NICE recommends non-invasive surgical procedure to target obesity

NICE has said that a non-invasive weight loss procedure should be used by the NHS...

GP trainee

Two training posts deliver one full-time GP on average, report warns

Two training posts are needed on average to deliver a single fully-qualified, full-time...

Dr Fiona Day

How to flourish as a GP by learning from the good and the difficult

Leadership and career coach Dr Fiona Day explains how GPs can grow and develop from...

Unhappy older woman sitting at home alone

Low mood – red flag symptoms

Low mood is a common presentation in primary care and can be a sign of a mental health...


PCN to take on GMS practice contract in landmark move for general practice

A GP practice in Hertfordshire could become the first to be run directly by a PCN...