Safeguarding focus: female genital mutilation (FGM)

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The Department of Health has written to all NHS trusts to warn that the start of the school summer holidays coincides with the weeks also known amongst anti-FGM campaigners as the ‘cutting season’.

This horrific name marks a time of year when many young girls are taken abroad to have FGM performed, in order that they can ‘heal’ over the summer holiday – mainly to avoid detection when they return to school.

A mandatory reporting duty will be imposed soon, which will require a referral to the police every time a confirmed case of FGM is identified in a child under 18 years of age. In the meantime, safeguarding responsibilities remain as before and as for all other forms of child abuse.

The Department have also highlighted a number of resources for staff:

  • NSPCC helpline staff have now been trained by FGM health experts so that NHS staff can receive support from a 24/7 team of advisors who can discuss the often complex circumstances surrounding cases of FGM. The helpline number is 0800 028 3550.
  • The five e-learning modules are free of charge to all NHS staff via the ‘e-learning for health’ platform and cover a range of issues in relation to FGM at all stages of a girl or woman’s life including: introduction to FGM; adult women both pregnant and non-pregnant;  children and young women;  communication skills for staff  and legal and safeguarding issues. These e-learning modules have been developed by Health Education England and are available at:
  • NHS Choices website -

If you have a patient who you suspect may be at risk of or has suffered FGM, please make a referral using SPOC on 0845 602 6856.

Published 30th July 2015 

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