Responding to cases of female genital mutilation (FGM)

In October 2015, the UK Government introduced some legal changes to how doctors in England and Wales must respond to cases of FGM. The Scottish Government has recently published a national action plan to prevent and eradicate FGM, and in 2014 multi-agency practice guidelines were published in Northern Ireland.

Following these developments, how confident are you that you know what to do if you become aware that a patient has had FGM? Do you know when you need to report FGM to the police and what patient data you’re expected to collect and report? Do you understand how this fits with your wider safeguarding and child protection duties, or your patients’ rights to confidentiality?

Select from the options below to read more about your responsibilities as a doctor working in England and Wales or Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Help for you

Our guidance explains the principles that you need to follow. There is also plenty of useful and detailed information available from the UK Government and national Governments/Executives, and other health and voluntary sector organisations to help you respond to cases of FGM. This includes information about support services for survivors and guidance on meeting your legal duties.

If you do need further help, though, please contact us.

I am a doctor in England or Wales


  Mandatory reporting The enhanced dataset

What is it? 


Report all known cases of FGM in under-18s to the police either by calling 101 or through existing local routes. Collect and submit data to NHS Digital (formerly HSCIC) whenever you identify FGM (adults and children).
Where does it apply? England and Wales England

Do patients have a choice?

You can read more about how sharing information through mandatory reporting and the dataset fit with our guidance on confidentiality in FGM: what does our guidance say?


No. Reporting is mandatory.








Patients have some choice. Explicit consent is not required by law but patients may opt out of sharing (or processing) identifiable information.




Where can I find out more?

You can find more resources in other support for you.



The Home Office’s for professionals explains how and when to report.



NHS Digital’s (pdf) gives more information about the enhanced dataset.




I am a doctor in Scotland or Northern Ireland

In Scotland and Northern Ireland, as in the rest of the UK, FGM has been a criminal offence since 1985. If a patient has had FGM then you must follow our guidance and your local policies for appropriate referral and safeguarding.

The Scottish Government has recently published an (pdf).

The Northern Ireland Executive has published (pdf).

You can read more about our guidance in FGM: what does our guidance say? and there are links to more resources in other support for you.

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