England’s first walk-in clinic opens for female genital mutilation survivors in Newham, Tower Hamlets, Redbridge and Waltham Forest
- Credit: Archant
A clinic has opened for women from Tower Hamlets, Newham, Waltham Forest and Redbrige who have experienced female genital mutilation (FGM).
The service, opened by Barts Health Trust, is the first walk-in clinic in England which offers cervical screening tests for FGM survivors.
FGM refers to procedures which purposely alter or injure female genitals for non-medical reasons. It is illegal in the UK.
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 a vaginal examination evokes due to the psychological trauma they have experienced.
“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.”
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The clinic has a gynaecologist who specialises in FGM, a midwife, a woman FGM-trained sample taker and access to an interpreter.
There is also access to psychological support and deinfibulation, a minor operation which is sometimes needed in order to carry out a smear test.
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A 27-year-old FMG survivor, who wished 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.”
No appointments are required for the clinic, which is based at Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone. In 2015, the hospital opened a maternity care service for women who had undergone FGM.
Cllr Clare Coghill, leader of Waltham Forest Council, said: “This new clinic offers local FGM survivors a safe space to have a cervical screening test and to get specialist support.
“The practice of FGM is horrific and it must be stopped. We know FGM is under-reported. This clinic is a step forward in breaking down some of those barriers.”
The clinic is open on the final Monday of every month from 9am - 12pm.