A midwife at St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust is campaigning for more support for women affected by female genital mutilation (FGM).

Denise Henry, a specialist perineal midwife* at St George’s Hospital, is championing a number of initiatives across south west London. These include a new publication to educate GPs and practice nurses in Wandsworth about the harmful consequences of FGM, the law on genital cutting and how to report any incidents of FGM. The booklet also urges clinicians to ask all females from communities that traditionally practise FGM about their own experience of genital circumcision whenever routine patient history is taken.

A midwife for 23 years, Denise supports women who are victims of FGM and have been referred by the antenatal clinic at St George’s Hospital. As part of a service she launched last December 2013, twice-monthly sessions are held to give support and advice to pregnant women facing serious health risks as a result of genital mutilation.

Denise hopes that the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation on February 6th and her new leaflet will encourage GPs and practice nurses to refer more victims of FGM, pregnant or not pregnant, for assessment and support at the clinic. She is sharing her expertise with colleagues at St George’s Hospital where she gives comprehensive training on caring for FGM victims to all midwives at the Trust. Denise is also working on a national level, contributing to guidelines on the prevention and treatment of FGM.

She says:

“I’m extremely passionate about bringing female genital mutilation to the forefront of female clinical care. Supporting GPs to identify victims of FGM and provide information, advice and support to these girls and women is vital and we hope our resources go a long way in assisting clinicians to do so.

“St George’s Hospital provides an outstanding service to pregnant women affected by FGM and we’re keen to extend our care to all women affected by this illegal practice. We will be encouraging clinicians to refer patients to St George’s and working hard to eliminate FGM, so all women can live healthy and happy lives without the harmful and traumatic consequences of female circumcision.”

Notes to editors

For more information, or for a spokesperson, please contact the Communications team on 020 8725 5151 or email communications@stgeorges.nhs.uk. Outside working hours, please page us by calling 0844 822 2888, leaving a short message and contact details for pager SG548.

About St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust

  • *a midwife who specialises in birth trauma
  • St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is one of the largest healthcare providers in the UK. Its main site, St George’s Hospital in Tooting – one of the country’s principal teaching hospitals – is shared with St George’s, University of London, which trains medical students and carries out advanced medical research. As well as acute hospital services, the trust provides a wide variety of specialist and community hospital based care and a full range of community services to children, adults, older people and people with learning disabilities. These services are provided from Queen Mary’s Hospital, Roehampton, 11 health centres and clinics, schools and nurseries, patients’ homes and Wandsworth Prison.
  • St George’s Hospital, Tooting, is home to one of four major trauma centres, one of eight hyper acute stroke units and one of the biggest and busiest of the seven heart attack centres in the capital.
  • The trust is an accredited centre of excellence for trauma, neurology, cardiology, cancer and blood pressure services and is the national centre for family HIV care and bone marrow transplantation for non-cancer diseases.