Community and health workers criticise new rules on FGM

FGM is a common practice in Somalia and many central and eastern Africa countries Credit: ITV News Central

Health and community workers in the Midlands say new rules requiring all NHS hospitals to report cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) are not good enough.

From today, hospitals must record and report data about whether a patient has been subjected to FGM, if there is a family history of it or if they have undergone an FGM related procedure.

The Department of Health says it wants a more accurate estimate of the number of women in the UK who have been through the practice.

ITV News Central reported in February on how girls from the Midlands are being illegally taken abroad to be mutilated. Since then, one person has been charged with carrying out FGM in the UK and another with intentionally encouraging it - the first charges in 30 years.

Maryan Anshur who works with the Somali community in Leicester was mutilated when she was 6-years-old.

FGM is a common practice in Somalia and many parts of eastern and central Africa. It involves forced female circumcision. It is often done to girls who are between four and ten years old to improve their marriage prospects.

Officially, more than 66,000 girls in the UK have been subjected to FGM and around 20,000 are thought to be at risk of it. It often leaves young girls with very serious medical problems for life.

Alison Byrne is a specialist FGM midwife at Heartlands and Good Hope Hospitals. She regularly treats 7 to 8 women a week who have been mutilated. Some health professionals who attend her training sessions have never heard of FGM.

Alison Byrne says some health professionals know nothing about FGM Credit: ITV News Central

In a statement the Department of Health told us the new rules will help "provide more information on the incidence and prevalence of FGM than ever before." They also said they are working "to develop materials and training to support NHS staff, including nurses, to better identify and support girls at risk of FGM."