Fluoride Action Network

Southampton: Only one of 12 fluoride decision makers lives in area affected

Source: Daily Echo | March 27th, 2009
Location: United Kingdom, England

ONLY one of the 12 NHS bosses who gave the green light for fluoride to be added to tap water in Totton lives in the area that will be affected, it has emerged.

The news has angered campaigners against the scheme to add the controversial chemical to the water supply of about 190,000 people around Southampton, including 8,000 in Totton.

Objections to the plans by the city’s primary care trust fear fluoride can cause mottling of teeth and even cancer, and resent being “force medicated” – so the news that only one of the decision makers will be affected the scheme provoked anger.

The South Central Stragegic Health Authority (SHA) board voted unanimously last month to approve the plans – aimed at improving children’s below-average dental health – and ordered Southern Water to start preparations.

But a request under the Freedom of Information Act showed only one director was from the area to be fluoridated. Totton councillor David Harrison reacted: “When Gordon Brown visited Southampton he clearly said this is an issue that local people must decide.

“We now learn that only one out of 12 of these unelected board members lives in the area in which fluoride is to be added to the water.

“The SHA had a duty to consult, despite it being a rigged consultation in favour of adding fluoride. Over 70% of local people were against. This is the most shocking, anti-democratic way of proceeding that I have ever encountered.”

However, the SHA pointed out in a statement that the region it oversees not only covers Hampshire but also Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire and the Isle of Wight.

It added: “Board members are appointed on the basis of their experience, knowledge, and expertise and go through a rigorous appointment process.

“They are driven by their commitment to improving the health of the population they serve rather than the immediate specific area in which they live.”

Although the decision went in favour of fluoridation, the battle looks set to continue with complaints to the NHS ombudsman. Campaign group Hampshire Against Fluoridation has warned it could take the issue to court.

It said: “We have launched a fighting fund and are seeking donations tohelp fight the SHA decision. We are currently taking legal advice to chaqllenge this decision.” It also wants to gather 10,000 names for a petition to prime minister Gordon Brown.

Hampshire Primary Care Trust and Southampton City Council were in favour of fluoride but the councils of Hampshire, New Forest and Totton and Eling were all against. Out of 10,000 formal responses from the public, 7,000 were not in favour.

Official complaints have also been made against the way the three-month consultation process was organised, including from Counc. Harrison and New Forest East MP Julian Lewis.