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FGM cases not falling fast enough, says RCN

The RCN has responded to the latest national figures on female genital mutilation (FGM) to say that more school nurses are need to tackle the problem
Wendy Preston

The RCN has responded to the latest national figures on female genital mutilation (FGM) to say that more school nurses are need to tackle the problem

Annual figures from NHS Digital show that there were 5,391 newly recorded cases in England in 2016-17 compared to 6,080 in 2015-16.

In total there were 9,179 FGM attendances in 2016-17 and 9,223 in 2015-16.

Vital role

RCN head of nursing Wendy Preston said 'despite the rhetoric', the number of women and girls subjected to FGM 'is not falling fast enough'.

'Mandatory reporting and compulsory sex and relationships education are important weapons in the fight against FGM, and school nurses play a vital role in both educating children and young women, and spotting those who may be at risk,' she said.

'Yet recent figures

The RCN has responded to the latest national figures on female genital mutilation (FGM) to say that more school nurses are need to tackle the problem

Annual figures from NHS Digital show that there were 5,391 newly recorded cases in England in 2016-17 compared to 6,080 in 2015-16. 

In total there were 9,179 FGM attendances in 2016-17 and 9,223 in 2015-16. 

Vital role

Wendy Preston
RCN head of nursing Wendy Preston. Picture: John Houlihan

RCN head of nursing Wendy Preston said 'despite the rhetoric', the number of women and girls subjected to FGM 'is not falling fast enough'. 

'Mandatory reporting and compulsory sex and relationships education are important weapons in the fight against FGM, and school nurses play a vital role in both educating children and young women, and spotting those who may be at risk,' she said.

'Yet recent figures show the number of school nurses has fallen 16% since 2010, largely as a result of government cuts to local authority health budgets.'

She called on the government to act to attract and retain school nurses to tackle the problem at a grass roots level. 

Note of caution

NHS Digital advised caution when comparing figures from both reporting periods. 

In 2015-16, organisations were not mandated to submit data for the full period and data completeness remains an issue in 2016-17. 

Of those newly recorded women and girls in 2016-17, women and girls born in Somalia account for more than one third (875 cases, 35%) of cases where country of birth was known (2,504).

There were 112 (4%) newly recorded cases of women and girls born in the UK. 

Since 2015, it has been mandatory for nurses and other healthcare professionals to report FGM cases involving under-18s to the police. 

Protect future generations

Public Health England national lead nurse for children, young people and families Wendy Nicholson said: 'Local areas are responsible for commissioning school nursing services and this should be underpinned by robust workforce plans.'

Health minister Jackie Doyle-Price said: 'We want to protect future generations of girls, and ultimately end FGM once and for all. But we are making sure we first understand the scale of the problem, which is why we collect data on FGM across the NHS.'


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