New guidance on FGM care published

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists advise high-quality care for circumcised women

Hospitals should appoint a lead midwife or consultant who is responsible for the care given to women who have undergone female genital mutilation, say new guidelines published by Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

The guidelines, which cover the care of women before, during and after pregnancy, advise health professionals to focus on the illegality and health risks of FGM so they do not appear to blame the woman.

Language most also be chosen carefully because the term ‘FGM’ may not be understood. Instead referring to being ‘cut’, ‘closed’ or ‘circumcised’ may be more acceptable to many women.

Lead author of the guideline, Dr Naomi Beer, said: ‘Thousands of vulnerable women in the UK are living with the long-term physical and psychological consequences of FGM, and these women must receive high quality care by obstetricians, gynaecologists and other healthcare professionals.

Under the Serious Crime Act 2015, healthcare workers, teachers and social workers are mandated to report cases of FGM in girls aged under 18 to the police.

RCM professional policy adviser Janet Fyle said: 'Midwives play a pivotal role in identifying and supporting women who have undergone FGM. Meeting a midwife is often the first time that many of these women will engage with health services. Consequently, we must ensure that midwives have the training, time and knowledge of services needed to support women through what can be difficult and distressing time.'

Ms Fyle, who was made an MBE by the Queen last month for her work tackling FGM, added: 'Trusts and other employers need to make sure their staff have the appropriate training in FGM with clear guidelines and pathways in place and mechanisms for monitoring their effectiveness.'

Read more about the new guidelines

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