College can't support FGM screening in general practice without evidence of its benefit for patients

Publication date: 06 February 2020

In response to the latest manifesto from ACTION: FGM, a coalition of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) survivors, Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "Female Genital Mutation (FGM) is a horrific crime that affects women and girls around the world, including here in the UK, with serious long-term and in some cases fatal implications. It's appalling that it is still happening in the 21st century.

"The College views FGM as child abuse and we support ACTION: FGM's overall commitment to eradicate this crime by 2030. But there is currently no evidence that screening for FGM works – or analysis of the potential and unintended harms this could lead to - so we do not support GPs and other healthcare professionals working in general practice having to do this.

"This is not to say that GPs do not have a role in identifying women and girls who have had or who are at risk of FGM and it remains vital that GPs are aware of the symptoms, legal and safeguarding protocols and support networks that are available for these patients."

RCGP also responded to a Daily Telegraph article 'Every woman and girl should be screened for 'barbaric' FGM practice, coalition of police, barristers and charities urge'. An abridged version of this letter has been published today.

Sir,

It is appalling that Female Genital Mutilation is happening in the 21st Century. Whilst the Royal College of GPs supports ACTION: FGM's overall commitment eradicate this horrific crime by 2030, there is no evidence that GPs screening for FGM will help achieve this and the process could carry unintended and harmful consequences.

Until there is evidence of its benefit, the RCGP cannot support FGM screening being introduced into general practice, however well-intended.

Professor Martin Marshall, 
Chair, Royal College of General Practitioners
London, NW1

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7494/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659
press@rcgp.org.uk

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 53,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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