Sheffield circumcision cuts spark backstreet op fear

Newborn baby The NHS in Sheffield currently funds about 200 circumcisions for non-medical reasons each year

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Funding for male circumcision for non-medical reasons in Sheffield is to be cut, sparking concerns there will be a rise in backstreet operations.

About 200 circumcisions are carried out for religious reasons in Sheffield each year, at a cost of £200,000.

NHS Sheffield's Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is looking to make savings and has proposed making families pay for the procedure.

Members of the city's Islamic community have complained about the decision.

Community worker Wahid Nazir said Muslim and Jewish communities would be affected.

"If these proposals go ahead these people that are doing these circumcisions in the backstreets, people that are not medically qualified, are going to become more prominent... and there's going to be more problems and young children are going to be put at risk.

Circumcision in the UK

  • Most circumcisions in the UK are done for non-therapeutic reasons (religious)
  • Currently no formal qualifications are required to perform the operation
  • Jewish boys are circumcised when they are eight-days-old by a Mohel - a Jewish person trained in the practice of brit milah, the covenant of circumcision
  • Most Muslim boys and some Christians are also circumcised as babies. There is no equivalent of a Jewish Mohel in Islam or Christianity with procedures usually carried out by doctors
  • Some medical experts have called for religious circumcision to be offered on the NHS to minimise the risk of post-operative complications

"In Sheffield it was advertised and people were encouraged to go to the NHS and get things done properly and it was very successful. So we're taking a backward step."

The move would bring Sheffield in line with national guidelines from the Department of Health, which say circumcisions should not be funded when they are requested for non-medical reasons.

In a statement, the CCG said: "Nationally, the NHS does not fund routine or religious circumcisions but despite this, Sheffield continues to spend £200,000 a year on these operations.

"As a CCG, we have to review what is the best use of funding for the half a million people who live in our city and as we only carry out around 200 circumcisions a year, we can assume that many parents are already using non-NHS funded services.

"As a CCG we are keen to ensure that all services we fund are medically necessary and appropriate whilst also providing the best value for money for all."

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