Lancashire medics will 'get extra training on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)' after review reveals shortcomings

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Medics at Royal Preston and Chorley hospitals will get extra training on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) after just 32 per cent were found to know about the hospital's policy on the abusive procedure.

A review was carried out by bosses concerned at the "low number" of referrals being made, and found that fewer medics now know about the FGM policy in place at the two hospitals.

FGM, also known as female circumcision, is a form of child abuse that sees genitals deliberately cut, injured, or altered, often when victims are under-16.

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The practice, which is illegal in the UK, mainly happens in certain African countries for cultural reasons, according to the aid agency Unicef.

Royal Preston HospitalRoyal Preston Hospital
Royal Preston Hospital

The Middle East and Asia are also hotspots, the Lancashire Safeguarding Children Board said.

Lancashire victims are often flown overseas for what is often described as a "special ceremony".

As well as the risk of death from blood loss and infection as a direct result of the procedure, severe problems are said to include infertility caused by repeat infections, mental health conditions like depression and PTSD, and blood infections like hepatitis B and HIV.

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Last year's audit saw medics in several clinical departments including A&E, gynaecology and the surgical assessment unit quizzed.

Nine in 10 knew what FGM is, and all were able to pinpoint the countries where it happens.

But while 37 per cent of staff used to be aware of the hospitals' policy on FGM, that figure is now only 32 per cent, a questionnaire revealed.

And just 92 per cent said they would refer to guidelines or contact the safeguarding team if they discovered a woman who had been mutilated.

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"An action plan has been produced and FGM awareness has now been added to all adult safeguarding training in addition to the child safeguarding training," hospital papers said.

Deinfibulation, a medical procedure performed to repair some of the damage, will also be included as part of maternity training following a recommendation by the Royal College of Gynaecologists.

Last year, the Post revealed how at least three Lancashire girls or women had been found suffering from FGM injuries.Across England, there were more than 8,600 appointments for women and girls with FGM at NHS services over a nine-month period.

Nearly 3,000 had their injuries recorded for the first time.

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Carrying the procedure out or assisting in it being conducted, either in the UK or abroad, can be punished with up to 14 years in prison.

Nursing and midwifery director at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sarah Cullen, said: "We are committed to delivering the best care possible and safeguarding our patients and our local communities so we continuously review our practices to ensure that the quality of our care is of the highest standard.

"Over the last year we have reviewed and revised our policy and have made improvements, including further training and raising awareness of our FGM policy through safeguarding training.

"We are pleased to see practice in this important area continue to be developed and continue to report this to our monthly safeguarding board.”


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* A female child in a family where other females have been mutilated

* The family is from a nation, region, or community in which FGM is practised

* Strong levels of influence by elders or elders being involved in bringing up female children

* A family elder (a non-related 'cutter') visiting from a country of origin

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* A family making preparations for the child to take a holiday. For example, arranging vaccinations or planning an absence from school

* A child talks of a 'special ceremony' that is going to happen

* A sudden or repeated failure to attend or engage with health and welfare services, or an extreme reluctance to undergo genital examination

* A girl from a practising community is withdrawn from sex education

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The Lancashire Safeguard Children Board added: "Girls who have undergone the procedure may have difficulty walking, standing, or sitting for long periods, and may spend longer time in the bathroom or toilet.

"They may display unusual behaviour after an absence from school or college, or appear withdrawn, anxious, or depressed."


If someone is in immediate danger of FGM, dial 999.

If you're concerned someone may be at risk, contact social services:

* Lancashire Children and Adults: 0300 123 6720

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