ANTI-fluoride campaigners have demanded that health chiefs scrap plans to add the chemical to Hampshire tap water, after a similar scheme elsewhere in the country was abandoned.
Health bosses in the north west have admitted the costs of introducing fluoridation there have mushroomed.
Opponents of South Central Strategic Health Authority’s moves to put fluoride in water delivered to nearly 200,000 people in parts of Southampton, Eastleigh, Totton, Netley and Rownhams have welcomed NHS North West’s decision.
And with Southern Water admitting it still doesn’t know exactly how the scheme will be implemented, campaigners argue the problems elsewhere show the Hampshire plans should also be axed.
Doug Cross, from UK Councils Against Fluoridation, said the latest estimates show the Hampshire scheme will prove to be far higher than the £471,000 quoted by the SHA when it said it believed the plans were viable.
He said: “If fluoridation is too expensive in the north west, it is unlikely to be affordable in the south.”
The SHA has admitted it is having to recalculate the costs of its scheme, after a two-year delay while it successfully fought a legal challenge over the plans.
NHS North West chief executive Mark Ogden said in a report to board members it is now estimated it would cost more than £200m to fluoridate the whole region’s water – twice as much as previously suggested.
He said the “considerable”
costs, along with the Government’s moves to scrap SHAs in 2013, mean the authority should abandon its efforts to introduce fluoridation.
Since defeating the judicial review, South Central SHA has insisted it remains convinced fluoridation will benefit public health, and says work is underway to introduce it as soon as possible.
But Mr Cross said the increased costs of the north west scheme, which have been estimated after £500,000 was spent on a feasibility study by water firm United Utilities, reveal major flaws in the Hampshire plans.
Last week, health minister Anne Milton told New Forest East MP Julian Lewis the Government has no idea what the Southampton scheme will cost beyond the original £471,000 estimate.
He said: “South Central SHA believes that it can convert a water treatment works for less than one tenth of the cost quoted by United Utilities, a company that is already fluoridating its own works and has the experience to get their calculations right.
“Even if the (Health and Social Care) Bill is defeated and the SHAs survive, these astronomical costs must now force the government to abandon its hated plans to forcibly medicate the public in this discredited, unethical and illegal travesty of ‘public health medicine’.”
Hampshire Against Fluoridation chairman Stephen Peckham said last night he also believes the North West decision is “significant”.
He said: “They say the costs are going to be higher than expected, and the uncertainty that reorganisations makes around trying to introduce such schemes.
“These are two things that seem to be completely ignored by the SHA here in this area.
“These schemes are not simple things where you just put fluoride in the water, they are complicated and expensive.
“The NHS is short of cash and to spend it on something that’s of no benefit, and will actually cause harm, is nonsensical.”
The SHA’s deputy director of public health, Dr James Mapstone, said last night the costs of the Hampshire scheme have not yet been finalised.
He said: “The estimate of costs remains as per the information contained in the independent feasibility report from 2008. We are currently working with Southern Water to provide more up to date costs.”
Council set to vote on fluoridation
COUNCILLORS in Southampton will tomorrow vote on a motion calling for them to state their opposition to fluoridation for the city.
Hampshire Against Fluoridation has forced the subject onto the agenda for the full council meeting by collecting more than 6,000 names on a petition.
Ahead of the vote, more than 100 people packed into a meeting to hear leading international fluoridation opponent Professor Paul Connett talk about the latest developments in the fight against the practice on Saturday.
The founder of Fluoride Action Network updated campaigners on changes around the world, including his native North America, where several cities have begun removing the chemical, following moves by the US Government to lower the recommended dose.
Professor Connett, yesterday met Romsey and Southampton North MP Caroline Nokes to talk about fluoride.