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GPs need more training in detecting cases of FGM

GPs need more training in detecting and reporting cases of female genital mutilation, and the RCGP needs to provide more support, MPs have said.

The House of Commons home affairs committee criticised the RCGP in a report on FGM for not doing enough to raise awareness among GPs about FGM and to give them training in this area.  

The committee acknowledged that the RCGP had introduced an e-module to train GPs but said that not enough doctors are completing it.

The committee’s report stated: ‘Doctors and health workers are in the front line in the fight against FGM. We do not believe that enough is being done by the Royal Colleges to encourage their members to report cases of FGM.

‘Given the recent prosecution there may be an even greater reluctance to do so, however, we consider that it is imperative that the RCGP informs every single doctor about this practice and gives them an indication of where adequate training  can be provided.’

RCGP honorary secretary Professor Nigel Mathers told committee members that more doctors need to report FGM, and said they should be subject to some kind of penalty if they fail to do so.

Professor Mathers said: ‘I think the sanction would depend on the merits of the case. We think the threshold should be very high for referral to the disbarring board and that the GMC should be closely involved in the process of deciding what the appropriate punishment for deliberate non-referral of FGM is.

‘The threat of a criminal prosecution is a considerable one for doctors and I think that a non-referral may well be down to the fact that the doctor does not know enough about FGM or grades of FGM and requires more training. It may be an inadvertent failure to refer.’

The Government has said GPs face a referral to the GMC if they fail to report instances of FGM under new legislation.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Dr Mathers is talking nonsense.

    Patients who see their GP expect to be dealt with in confidence, not a trip to the local police station. This proposal undermines trust in the doctor patient relationship and should be treated with absolute disdain. Threatening to prosecute doctors for not acting as police officers is just adding to the all pervasive culture of fear that is slowly poisoning UK general practice.

    The government's proposals amount to little more than cover-up of their failure to adequately address this issue and shift the blame elsewhere. Any such law would likely be abused for political ends as seen in the recent failed prosecution of an obstetrician for FGM which he did not commit.

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