With NHS England establishing a network of ‘one-stop shop’ clinics, hundreds of survivors of female genital mutilation (FGM) will now be able to access early care, support and treatment. The service which is being rolled out across eight new centres in England as part of the NHS Long Term Plan will benefit over 1300 women aged >18 years.
In the traditional approach, the NHS can identify and offer support to FGM survivors during pregnancy through maternity services. The new network of FGM support clinics is expected to connect with women before they are pregnant and provide various services under one roof. The network will offer services of specialist doctors, midwives and nurses, specially trained counsellors and FGM Health Advocates.
One of the key interventions that will be offered includes de-infibulation, a minor surgical procedure to divide the scar tissue which narrows the vagina in certain cases of FGM. The procedure could decrease complications during childbirth if performed before pregnancy. It will also be available for women outside of childbearing years.
Hilary Garratt, Deputy Chief Nursing Officer for England, said: "These new NHS clinics will benefit hundreds of women who have suffered this most severe form of abuse and violence. These are clinics for women, run by women."