A Bucks trust has become the first to introduce a digital information sharing tool to protect women at risk of female genital mutilation.

Milton Keynes University Hospital has implemented the Female Genital Mutilation-Information Sharing (FGM-IS) solution, which allows authorised health professionals in the region to view information about girls with a family history of FGM.

The solution is owned and hosted by NHS Digital and integrates within the trust’s eCARE electronic health records (EHR) system, powered by Cerner Millennium.

It aims to enhance patient safeguarding processes, in addition to the Child Protection – Information Sharing (CP-IS) function that is already in place within their EHR, helping clinicians and other care professionals provide better support for young patients.

Craig York, the trust’s chief technology officer, said: “This is a hugely important step for our hospital and our patients, allowing our staff to better be positioned to protect our female patients at risk of this illegal practice.

“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.”

Before the implementation of FGM-IS, care professionals had to carry out manual processes and checks, increasing the risk of not identifying patients potentially at risk of FGM due to errors.

The programme has the potential to feed into the trust’s 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, added: “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 support and digital tools they need to be able to provide the highest-possible quality of care to their patients.”

FGM is illegal in the UK, is considered child abuse and can lead to significant, long-lasting physical and mental health problems.

Some 1,990 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, according to the FGM enhanced data report for January to March 2019.