Improving the Service

Current Service Provision

Due to the perception of women that they will be negatively judged, a considerable barrier to accessing healthcare exists within the UK. Women have reported that health professionals in the UK have a lack of knowledge on the management of FGM, and therefore do not have confidence in the service.

“Most of them say they do not have any faith in the healthcare here, because they think that health workers have no understanding of their culture and traditions, and thus no understanding of what their problems are, in particular in relation to women’s health, particularly FGM.” 10p

It was acknowledged that this was due to lack of exposure to FGM, whereas in Arabic countries the health professionals understand the management of the practice as it is considered common. 10 A national survey of heads of midwifery in 2006 which assessed the current service provision for these women, concluded that although the issue has been highlighted by legislation, the service remains uncoordinated and poorly targeted. It was also evident that little or no training exists for midwives and doctors. 52

Specialist services

Specialist clinics have been recommended and set up in order to specifically tailor care to these women. An example of this service is the establishment of the African Well Woman Clinic in 2001, which in its first year provided care for 116 women. The number of women attending provides sufficient justification for this service. It was particularly noted that such women often do not volunteer that they have undergone the procedure. Doctors and midwives should enquire specifically about genital mutilation when caring for women from high risk countries, and offer the services of specialist clinics for female genital mutilation. 31

Training for health professionals

A survey in 2009 exploring relevant public sector attitudes towards current service provision for women who have undergone FGM suggested that it was vital to address training, quality of information available and practical issues such as trust guidelines. The 78 respondents were from the health sector, charities, education sector and police force. 53

The following suggestions were made: