GPs must report female genital mutilation, says RCGP

GPs have 'a duty' to report suspected female genital mutilation (FGM) as child abuse to social services, according to the RCGP.

Dr Maureen Baker: UK lacks data on scale of FGM problem (Photo: RCGP)
Dr Maureen Baker: UK lacks data on scale of FGM problem (Photo: RCGP)

The RCGP has submitted written evidence to the Home Office Select Committee identifying FGM as 'child abuse' and called for it to be treated as a safeguarding issue.

They say GPs should be vigilant and 'aware of the symptoms, legal protocols and support networks for patients' to help secure better support for affected young girls and women.

Routine screening of young girls is, however, advised against in order to reduce any additional trauma and the alienation of hard-to-reach individuals and communities.

Instead, GPs should take advantage of a specific code for recording FGM and be aware of the kind of evidence they could collect to allow for the prosecution of other healthcare professionals performing the abuse.

Dr Maureen Baker, RCGP chairwoman, said: 'We have significant concerns over the lack of detailed data on the prevalence of FGM within the UK, as planning of services cannot be adequately undertaken without knowledge of the scale of the problem.

'The college has helped to draw up a number of resources on FGM for use within primary care, including a Statement on Female Genital Mutilation and a major report, Tackling FGM in the UK, which looks at the role that all health and social care professionals - including GPs - have in identifying and reporting cases of FGM.'

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