It is now mandatory for nurses, midwives and other health professional to report suspected cases of female genital mutilation.
The duty, which came into force on 31 October, will require all nurses and midwives in England and Wales to report known cases of FGM in girls under 18 to the police.
Royal colleges have worked closely with the Department of Health and NHS England to develop resources for staff, in order to help them understand their responsibilities in relation to mandatory reporting of those deemed at risk and how to support patients who have already experienced FGM.
The package of support includes:
- Quick guidance for professionals, including a flow-chart that sets out what action health professionals should take
- A poster for NHS organisations to publicise the duty to their staff
- Training slides
- Video interviews with health professionals
- A leaflet for staff to give to patients to explain the new duty
The mandatory reporting duty is in addition to other measures – parental liability for FGM and FGM protection orders – that were introduced earlier this year to coincide with the start of the school summer holidays in the UK.
Royal College of Midwives chief executive Cathy Warwick said: “The intercollegiate recommendations for identifying, recording and reporting FGM called for health professionals to report incidences of FGM.
“The RCM is pleased that the Department of Health is taking steps to ensure that midwives and other healthcare professionals are supported with resources to raise their awareness of their duty to report all cases of FGM in girls under 18,” she said.
“Providing appropriate care for survivors, rigorous data collection, and now legislation making mandatory reporting of all cases of known FGM in girls under the age of 18 is crucial to tackling FGM in the UK and abroad,” she added.
“Healthcare professionals are at the forefront of the fight to end FGM and this new duty is the next step in that fight”
Public health minister Jane Ellison said: “Healthcare professionals are at the forefront of the fight to end FGM and this new duty is the next step in that fight.
“The tools we are providing will empower NHS staff and support them in strengthening their safeguarding response for our girls who are at risk, and better protect and care for those living with FGM,” she added.