National NHS Female Genital Mutilation pilot project launched in Leeds in partnership with Touchstone
12 September 2019
NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care today announced the launch of new community-based clinics to support non-pregnant women who have undergone Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), with Leeds being chosen to host the clinic for the North of England.
The funding has come from NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group and the service will be delivered by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, working alongside Touchstone who will provide mental health support and advocacy to women attending the clinic.
The pilot project will deliver a fortnightly clinic for women who are victims of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Clinics will provide support and basic treatments in relation to FGM, and onward referral to other health services as needed. They will deliver services to both recent and non-recent victims over the age of 18.
Jo Harding, Director of Quality and Safety at NHS Leeds CCG, said: “We’re proud to have launched this pilot project in Leeds and to be working with Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, who will be delivering the service with Touchstone.
“The project will support non-pregnant women who are aged 18 and over and who are survivors of FGM. The clinics will deliver services to both recent and non-recent victims, and can assist in police investigations of the FGM offence against them, only if they wish to do so.
“The partnership with Touchstone will allow them to encourage women from a range of ethnic backgrounds to access the service, as they already have some of those key relationships which will help in promoting the service. They will also have a key role in the delivery of the service by providing mental health support and advocacy to those women attending the clinic”.
Sue Gibson, Director of Midwifery for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, added: “We are delighted to be working with Touchstone to develop this important service in Leeds. Women affected by FGM are often afraid or embarrassed to speak about their experiences and so it can be a challenge to reach those who will benefit most from our help. With the support of Touchstone we will be able to ensure that women will be fully supported to access the emotional and physical care they need.”
Touchstone’s role in the partnership is to coproduce an inclusive service which will engage women from a broad range of ethnic backgrounds and enable them to access and benefit from this new community-based service. We will provide mental health support and advocacy to women attending the clinic. The ethos will be person-focused. Survivors’ needs will be put first.
Alison Lowe, CEO at Touchstone said: “Touchstone is delighted to be part of this national NHS pilot programme. We feel that the specialists needs of women (and some trans men) who have been subjected to FGM has not been met by previous services and this new pilot gives us the opportunity to put that right. Touchstone's passion is the people it serves and we are excited to amplify the voices of this very marginalised group of people for the first time.”
Leeds is one of five sites nationally that will be piloting the project. The success of the project, which will run for two years, will rest upon the outcomes measured at each of the sites in promoting health and wellbeing.