Save the Acton FGM Community Clinic

The Acton FGM Community Clinic is a specialist service dedicated to help women who are suffering the mental and physical health consequences of Female Genital Mutilation. 

The clinic was set up in 2007, by Midwife Juliet Albert, to provide help for women with FGM.  Over the last 10 years the service has:-  provided help for more than 1,000 women;  carried out the reversal/opening procedure for more than 500 women; referred over 200 women for specialist gynaecology consultations; and  provided counselling for over 150 women. Many women have said that "this service changed my life after suffering years of pain".

The service is community-based and midwife-led. The team consist of a Midwife, a Counsellor and a Somali and Arabic-speaking Health Advocate. It is holistic and is especially targeted at women who are vulnerable. It is accessed by women who often speak very little English, they often do not want to talk to their GP about their FGM and they are often first or second generation asylum seekers or refugees.

The service is particularly accessed by younger women who need help and support before or just after they get married who have suffered Type 3 FGM and need a small surgical "opening" procedure which can be done in the clinic using local anaesthetic. The team also see a number of older women who have problems of long term pain, incontinence, fistulas and prolapses. These women are referred on for specialist uro-gynaecology services. The service provides 1-1 counselling or referral on to specialist long term counselling.

The clinic's ethos is to never turn anyone away. Women do not need a referral from their GP. They can self-refer and there are no geographical boundaries. It is a fast-track service –  and all women are seen within 2 weeks of them contacting us.  This means that they won't need to wait 4-6 months on a waiting list to get referred to a gynaecologist who may never have cared for a woman with FGM before.  

FGM Survivor and service user Aida Silvestre said:  "This clinic is vital for FGM victims. It provides a great deal of support physically and emotionally by creating a safe environment for girls/women to talk about their problems and experiences while maintaining their anonymity. The clinic changes lives and saves lives."

This clinic was set up in response to the needs of local women who were unable to access specialist services to help them with the health consequences that they were suffering as a result of FGM.  The community setting was chosen to make the service more accessible, less intimidating than the hospital and because it is supposed to be cheaper.

Over the last 10 years the clinic team have trained more than one hundred professionals how to deinfibulate and also trained thousands of multi-agency professionals through workshops, seminars etc. Many other FGM clinics have recognised that theclinic provides a gold standard of care and have modelled their service upon the Acton service. For example, the Bristol "Rose" clinic, the North Middlesex "Iris" clinic and the Chelsea & Westminster FGM clinic.

During a clinic consultation staff carry out a physical and mental health assessment.  All women are involved in a discussion to ensure that they are knowledgeable about the Law in the U.K. and the health consequences of FGM. The Midwife will diagnose and explain to them what Type of FGM they have and the team carry out an essential safeguarding risk assessment of female children or younger siblings that may be at risk of, or have had, FGM.

The clinic is often visited by women that have never spoken about their FGM before and do not feel that they can discuss FGM with their GP and they frequently reveal that they have suffered years of urinary tract infections and painful sexual intercourse prior to accessing the service.

In 2011 this clinic won a Guardian Public Service Award in the category of Diversity and Equality.

The clinic was also visited by MP Jane Ellison (former Public Health Minister) in February 2016 as an example of a gold standard, holistic FGM service that has been used as a blueprint for services across the UK.

The clinic has received notice that Ealing Council will cease funding the clinic post March 2017. The Acton FGM Community clinic costs approximately £40,000 annually. It is a service that is desperately needed as there are no other specialist FGM clinics for non-pregnant women in West London. The reputation that has built up over the last 10 years means that word of mouth is the most common route of referral. Women recommend the service to their family and friends and this is why no woman is ever turned away as the clinic is visited by women from all over London and many other parts of the UK. 

This service will close at the end of March, 2017 unless we act NOW.

Please help us Save the Acton Clinic and sign this petition.

Thank you

This petition will be delivered to:
  • Nicola Blackwood MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health & Innovation
  • Member of Parliament for Ealing Central and Acton
    Rupa Huq
  • Member of Parliament and Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
    Jane Ellison

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