Milton Keynes University Hospital (MKUH) has become the first NHS Trust to introduce an information sharing tool which aims to protect women at risk of suffering female genital mutilation (FGM).
The Female Genital Mutilation-Information Sharing (FGM-IS) solution is a tool which allows relevant, authorised healthcare professionals and administrative staff in the region to view information about girls with a family history of FGM, providing an opportunity to safeguard at-risk patients.
Before the implementation of FGM-IS, care professionals had to carry out manual processes and checks that were both time-consuming and prone to errors, increasing the chances of not identifying patients potentially at risk of FGM or with a family history of FGM.
“This is a hugely important step for our hospital and our patients, allowing our staff to be better positioned to protect our female patients at risk of this illegal practice,” says Craig York, MKUH’s chief technology officer.
“At MKUH, we are always looking at ways in which we can improve the care we offer our patients and we are delighted to be the first hospital in the country to embrace this new technology.”
The practice of FGM, sometimes also known as female circumcision, refers to a procedure where a woman’s genitals are deliberately cut, injured or changed without any medical reason. The procedure is illegal in the UK, is considered child abuse, and can lead to significant, long-lasting physical and mental health problems.
Despite being a prosecutable criminal offence – whether carried out in the UK or abroad – 1,990 individual women and girls who received emergency care across England between January and March this year were still either identified with FGM or had to undergo a procedure as a result of FGM.1
The FGM-IS solution, owned and hosted by NHS Digital, is integrated within MKUH’s eCARE electronic health records (EHR) system, powered by Cerner Millennium®, ensuring clinicians and care team members can securely access critical information in a single place. By providing authorised staff with up-to-date, connected information at the point of care, MKUH is ensuring the right care professionals across the different multi-disciplinary teams are equipped with both the data and the tools they require to safeguard women, particularly young girls, in their care.
The success of this implementation is the result of close collaboration between MKUH, NHS Digital, and Cerner, and proof of the Trust’s commitment to deliver smarter, safer, and more reliable care to all their patients. FGM-IS enhances the Trust’s capabilities to improve their patient safeguarding processes, in addition to the Child Protection – Information Sharing (CP-IS) solution that is already in place within their EHR, helping clinicians and other care professionals provide better support for their young patients.
This achievement advances MKUH’s vision of improving patient safety, patient experience, and clinical effectiveness, with the potential to ultimately feed into wider regional initiatives, including their Health Information Exchange, provided by Cerner, which makes patient information available across different care venues to ensure the delivery of consistent, appropriate care.
Distie Profit, general manager for Cerner UK, said: “We are enthused to see MKUH lead the way in adopting national initiatives that put patient safety and safeguarding as a top priority.
“I truly hope to see this solution soon being adopted by all Trusts in England as a standard practice to look after their female patients, particularly those that are more vulnerable to suffering abusive procedures like this.
“Our pledge remains to continuously equip them, and all our clients, with the digital support and technology they need to be able to provide the highest-possible quality of care to their patients.”