Victims of the “horrific” practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) can now get help at a walk-in clinic at Whipps Cross Hospital, which is the first of its kind in the country.

The clinic, run by Barts Health NHS Trust, offers cervical screening tests to women and gives them the opportunity to see an FGM specialist gynaecologist as well as other specialists including a psycho-social practitioner, an FGM specialist midwife and an interpreter.

Dr Reeba Oliver, who runs the clinic, said: “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.” 

The clinic, which is open to women in Waltham Forest, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Redbridge, offers FGM survivors a minor operation, known as a deinfibulation, to divide the scar tissue which narrows the vaginal opening.

One survivor, 27, 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.”     

According to the NHS, there were 5,391 newly-recorded cases of FGM reported in England in 2016-17 with almost half of all cases relating to women and girls living in London. 

Dr Sabeena Pheerunggee, of the Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “For many of these women, coming forward to explain what happened to them can be an extremely difficult and trying experience.  

“It’s only by providing this specialist support that we will encourage survivors to come forward and seek help.”

Cllr Clare Coghill, leader of Waltham Forest Council, said: “The practice of FGM is horrific and it must be stopped. We are working closely with the community to protect girls at risk. We know FGM is under-reported. This clinic is a step forward in breaking down some of those barriers through promoting the service in the borough.”

The walk-in clinic is open on the final Monday of the month from 9am-12pm at the Perineal Clinic, Area A, Outpatients building, Whipps Cross Hospital, Leytonstone, London E11 1NR. 

The service is a partnership between Barts Health NHS Trust, Waltham Forest CCG and Waltham Forest Council.