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MPs call for doctors to be ’empowered’ to tackle female genital mutilation

Health professionals should be ‘empowered’ to make assessments of young patients deemed to be at high risk of female genital mutilation, a report by a parliamentary committee has said.

The Commons home affairs committee’s ‘case for a national action plan’ on FGM evaluated the model used in France – which has much higher prosecution rates for FGM – where young patients are regularly inspected up to the age of six.

The committee rejected routine inspections as a ‘disproportionate response’, but backed a system that ‘empowers medical professionals to make periodic FGM assessments where a girl is identified as being at high risk.’

The French model was criticised by leaders at the BMA’s annual representative’s meeting in Harrogate last week, with London GP, Dr Jackie Appleby, asking: ‘How do you avoid alienating sections of the community?’

But the BMA welcomed the MPs’ assertion that doctors are ‘vital’ to tackle the problem.

The committee also proposes that GPs should question at-risk patients at time of registration, and said there should be clear referral pathways for practitioners.

New clinical codes for GPs, specifically for recording cases of FGM, were introduced this year.

BMA medical ethics committee chair Tony Calland said: ‘FGM is a serious crime and form of abuse that no child should have to suffer.’

‘It is encouraging that the home affairs committee recognises the vital role that healthcare professionals have in breaking the generational cycle of FGM.’