GPs must ask about FGM in consultations with at-risk women and girls

GPs have a duty to raise the subject of FGM in their next appointment with a woman or child if they have been alerted that the patient could be at risk from the procedure, according to updated guidance.

GPs should take the opportunity to ‘continue discussion around FGM throughout the standard delivery of care’, the DH has said in updated guidance, which provides advice to help structure these conversations.

Since October 2015 – when the guidance was first launched – GPs have a mandatory duty to report FGM to the police when a girl under 18 either discloses she has had FGM or they observe physical signs that she has.

The guidance warns: ‘FGM is not an issue that can be decided on by personal preference – it is an illegal, extremely harmful practice and a form of child abuse and violence against women and girls.’

It adds that GPs must record FGM in a patient’s care record, and this should be reported to the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) on a monthly basis.

An ‘FGM Risk Indication System’ will also be made available soon to GPs, following pilots run across three trusts and six GP practices last autumn. This will allow them to add, remove and view risk of FGM, and can be accessed through the summary care record application. .

This will be accessible to all healthcare professionals who see the patient throughout their childhood, highlighting that they need to consider this risk when treating the patient.

GP responsibilities on FGM

The DH guidance states:

It is the responsibility of the GP to update the following section within the Red Book, "Are there any other particular illnesses or conditions in the mother’s or father’s family that you feel are important?" when applicable to do so with new FGM information.

On receipt at the GP Practice of the Maternity Discharge information, where FGM information has been included, the new-born baby’s healthcare record must be updated with that FGM information.

On receipt at the GP Practice of the Maternity Discharge information, where FGM information has been included, the Mother’s healthcare record must be updated with the FGM information, identified prior to, during or after the birth of a baby.

On receipt at the GP Practice of any clinical notes or discharge summary information where FGM has been included, then that information must be included within the young girl or woman’s healthcare record.

Where FGM is identified within a General Practice, all referrals made by the GP must include the FGM information when referring the patient to services where FGM may be relevant.

On receipt of a notification from a Health Visitor or School Nurse that a girl under their care has a sister or sisters that are also under the same GP’s care, then the sister/s healthcare records must be updated to include Family History of FGM.

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