- Reference Number: HEY1055/2019
- Departments: Maternity Services, Safeguarding, Trustwide - Adult
- Last Updated: 11 July 2019
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This advice sheet has been produced to give you information about female genital mutilation (FGM). It is not meant to replace discussion between you and your doctor. If after reading it, you require further explanation please discuss this with the relevant person who has been caring for your child.
Protecting girls with a family history of FGM
If a health professional knows that women and girls in your family have had FGM, this means your daughter has a family history of FGM. This information will be recorded on your daughter’s healthcare record, and also as part of her electronic healthcare record using the FGM Information Sharing system.
When your daughter is treated in the future, this information will be made available securely and confidentially to the health professionals who will treat her. This information will help health professionals to work with you to care for your daughter and protect her from harm throughout her childhood.
Before recording this information in your daughter’s record, a healthcare professional will discuss this with you and explain what it means and how it will be used. They may speak further with you depending on the circumstances.
Please ask questions and let your healthcare professional know if you require support or translation from an independent interpreter.
What is FGM?
FGM is a procedure where the female genital organs are deliberately cut, injured or changed, but where there is no medical reason for this to be done. It is very painful and can seriously harm women and girls’ health. Some girls die from blood loss or infection as a direct result of the procedure. Women who have had FGM are also likely to experience difficulty in childbirth.
FGM can be carried out on girls of all ages but it may be more common between the ages of 5 and 10. FGM is also known as ‘female circumcision’ or ‘cutting’ and by other terms such as sunna, gudniin, halalays, tahur, megrez and khitan amongst others.
FGM is not required by any religion and there are no religious texts which support it or say it should be done.
FGM causes serious harm to girls and women, including:
- constant pain
- repeated infections which can lead to infertility
- bleeding, cysts and abscesses
- problems passing urine or incontinence
- depression, flashbacks, self-harm
- labour/childbirth problems which can lead to death
FGM is illegal
FGM is illegal and it is child abuse. It must never be carried out either here or abroad. It is also illegal to arrange for your child to be taken abroad for the procedure or to help someone else to carry out FGM in any way. Anyone found guilty of this faces up to 14 years in prison and may also be made to pay a fine.
What help can you get?
If you have had FGM, you can get medical help and support from your doctor or any other healthcare professional. Help is also available from your midwife if you are pregnant.
If you are concerned about any girl who may be at risk of FGM tell a health professional or phone the NSPCC helpline 0800 028 3550, 24 hours a day.
If you are worried that you may be pressurised by your family, or community to have FGM performed on your daughter, ask your doctor, health visitor or other healthcare professional for help.
For further information please see link below:
Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about you. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You. www.hey.nhs.uk/privacy/data-protection
If you or your carer needs information about your health and well-being and about your care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.
General Advice and Consent
Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.
Consent to treatment
Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats you, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to you. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.
The information you receive should be about your condition, the alternatives available to you, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:
- you must be able to give your consent
- you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
- you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person
Information about you
We collect and use your information to provide you with care and treatment. As part of your care, information about you will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.
We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide you with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your doctor, or the person caring for you.
Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about you. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.
If you or your carer needs information about your health and wellbeing and about your care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.