NHS acute hospitals in England will now be required to provide information on patients who have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM), the government has announced.
From April this year NHS hospitals will be required to record if a patient has had FGM, if there is a family history of FGM and if an FGM-related procedure has been carried out in hospital on a woman, such as deinfibulation. Starting in September all acute hospitals must then report this data centrally to the Department of Health on a monthly basis.
The government says this is the first stage of a wider ranging programme of work in development to improve the way in which the NHS will respond to the health needs of girls and women who have suffered FGM and actively support prevention.
In addition, a new £100,000 FGM Community Engagement Initiative launches today. Charities can bid for up to £10,000 from the Home Office to carry out community engagement work aimed at raising awareness of FGM. The government has also appointed a consortium of leading anti-FGM campaigners to deliver a global campaign to end FGM.
Public Health Minister Jane Ellison said: "Female Genital Mutilation is an abhorrent practice that has no place in this – or any other – society.
"In order to combat it and ensure we can care properly for the girls and women who have undergone mutilation we need to build a more accurate nationwide picture of the challenge. This is the first step towards doing that."
The government has also announced that an external tender for a new FGM e-learning package will launch shortly. This free resource will be aimed at professionals such as teachers, nurses, police and border force staff to increase their awareness of this illegal practice.
In Scotland, Education minister Michael Russell has announced he will be writing to every Scottish headteacher calling on them to train teachers and parents about the warning signs and risks of FGM.