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Voices - Join forces to help stop female genital mutilation, says Jane Cummings

At this time of year, some young girls may be taken abroad to undergo female genital mutilation.

Health and care staffare crucial to the prevention and identification of FGM, protecting girls at risk and caring for those who have survived. In February it was reported that the NHS treated 2,600 cases of FGM in six months.

Potential warning signs include young girls being inoculated for trips to countries with high incidence of FGM, or talking about going away for special ceremonies, and families extending holidays beyond the specified school period.

The Department of Health, NHS England and the NSPCC have joined forces to ensure staff at the NPSCC’s FGM helpline receive additional training. Delivered by experienced specialist healthcare practitioners – a midwife and a nurse who is also a trained counsellor – the training helps the staff to answer questions and address concerns from nurses and other clinicians, clarify risks, and advise on how to respond to unfamiliar situations and what action to take.

Further resources can be found on the NHS Choices website (www.nhs.uk/fgm) and FGM e-learning modules developed by Health Education England are available at www.tinyurl.com/elearning-FGM

The NSPCC FGM helpline (0800 028 3550) and online resources reinforce the care, compassion and support we all can – and should – be giving to vulnerable young girls in this tragic situation. We also need to support each other to be vigilant and well informed.

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