England’s first female genital mutilation smear walk in clinic open to Redbridge residents

in Redbridge around 70 victims of FGM were seen by doctors, nurses or midwives over the last year. P

in Redbridge around 70 victims of FGM were seen by doctors, nurses or midwives over the last year. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Archive/PA Images - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Redbridge residents can now use the first walk-in clinic in England which offerers cervical screening tests to women who have experienced female genital mutilation (FGM).

The clinic based at Whipps Cross Hospital, Whipps Cross Road, Leytonstone is run by Barts Health NHS Trust and users will be able to be seen by FGM specialist gynaecologist, a psycho-social practitioner, an FGM specialist midwife, a female FGM-trained sample taker and have access to an interpreter.

The clinic also offers psychological support, information and advice, and deinfibulation – a minor operation to divide the scar tissue which narrows the vaginal opening.

According to NHS Digital, there were 5,391 newly-recorded cases of FGM reported in England in 2016-17 with almost half of all cases relating to women and girls living in London.

A 27-year-old FMG survivor, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “I will use this clinic because it’s run by specialist women who understand about the issues I’m facing.

“The clinic has access to everything I need which is important – I will be telling my friends about this new service.”

GPs and practice nurses will now be able to direct patients to have a cervical screening test at the clinic although no appointment is required for the specialist service.

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Dr Reeba Oliver, a Barts health consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist who is running the clinic, said: “The clinic offers a specialist service for FGM survivors, particularly those who avoid having a cervical screening test because of the fear that a vaginal examination evokes due to the psychological trauma they have experienced.

“Additionally, in some cases an examination and smear is only possible after deinfibulation and the clinic offers this minor operation on the same day.

“FGM has serious health consequences that go into adulthood. There are long-term emotional, psychological and physical effects from the damage caused by FGM.

“I strongly encourage women in the borough to come and use the service, they will be treated with support, dignity and understanding.”

The new FGM service follows the launch of specialist maternity care at Whipps Cross Hospital in 2015 for women who have experienced FGM.

FGM is a form of child abuse and refers to procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons and is illegal in the UK.

The walk-in clinic is open on the final Monday of the month from 9am-12pm at the Perineal Clinic, Area A, Outpatients building.