Almost half of patients at young people’s clinic had suffered FGM 

22/09/2015 00:00 
Almost half of patients referred to the UK’s first female genital mutilation (FGM) clinic for children and adolescents clinic in its first year had undergone some form of FGM, new figures from UCLH show.

Doctors at UCLH are now calling for swifter examinations for girls whom it is suspected have suffered FGM in order to reduce the distress of waiting for assessment for patients and their families.

The clinic, which remains the only one for children and young people in the UK, provides medical treatment and psychological help to girls aged from 0 to 18 who have suffered mutilation or who may be at risk, either in the UK or overseas.

Children are seen in the clinic but in addition clinicians can send in DVDs of clinical examinations done in other clinics for a second opinion. Of the 38 children referred to the clinic, 30 were seen and examined and 8 cases were for DVD review. The service also gives expert advice to help girls who are at risk, as well as management of the physical and psychological health implications of FGM.

Of those 38 patients referred to the clinic with suspected FGM in the last 12 months, 18 had some form of FGM. Of these, three had been carried out illegally, while the remainder had been done before the children had come to the UK.

In many of those cases (11 out of 18) doctors found that patients had suffered type 4 FGM - where a nick or cut has been made leaving little or no scarring. This is an illegal practice has become more common in recent years.

The clinic is run jointly by consultant community paediatrician Deborah Hodes and consultant gynaecologist Professor Sarah Creighton.
Dr Hodes said: “The physical and psychological suffering caused by FGM can be considerable and our aim has been to provide sensitive treatment, advice and counselling for those affected by FGM.

“Immediate psychological support has been taken up by many of the families attending, many of whom have had to wait for several weeks before their daughters have been assessed. That is a deeply traumatising wait and more needs to be done to speed up examinations when local authority services suspect FGM has taken place.”

Professor Creighton said: “Our clinics have been full throughout the last year, and we have worked with colleagues across the country to share expertise with other practitioners. While awareness of FGM has grown considerably in recent years we cannot be complacent – there is still a real lack of information about what the communities affected by the practice think.”

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