More than a 1,000 cases of female genital mutilation were reported in the first three months of this year, sparking calls for a national action plan from the Royal College of Midwives.
There were 1,242 newly recorded cases of FGM in England between January and March of this year, according to data published on its incidence by the Health and Social Care Information Centre.
“All healthcare professionals need to be vigilant in identifying women and girls at risk”
In total, the centre said there were 2,223 total healthcare attendances where FGM was identified or a procedure for FGM had been undertaken. It noted that 81 trusts and 12 GP practices submitted one or more FGM attendance record.
However, more than half of all cases related to women and girls from the London commissioning region, with 52% of newly recorded cases and 60% of total attendances.
Meanwhile, 11 newly recorded cases of FGM involved women and girls reported to have been born in the UK and 84% of women and girls were pregnant at the point of attendance.
Commenting on the figures, RCM professional policy advisor Janet Fyle said: “These figures show that we need renewed and focused efforts to tackle FGM.
“This has to be backed by a national action plan so that all sectors and all professionals see FGM as their business, and protecting girls from such abuses becomes a normal part of their practice,” she said.
Ms Fyle described it as “shocking” that 29 of the newly recorded cases – equivalent to 2% – were among girls under 18 and “even more of a concern” that 11 of them were born in the UK.
“This is why all healthcare professionals need to be vigilant in identifying women and girls at risk,” she said. “They can then provide them with support and appropriate care and referral, and collaborate in the collection of data.”
She added: “Health professionals must report all cases of known FGM in girls under eighteen to the police. It is important that regulated professionals comply with their mandatory duty and legal obligation to report FGM cases.”