GLASGOW’S health board has done a U-turn on its push to put fluoride in the water supply after learning it will have no support from the Scottish Executive.
NHS Greater Glasgow agreed to take no action on fluoride as it published its strategy to improve the city’s dire tooth decay record.
The move follows Deputy Health Minister Rhona Brankin’s announcement that the law would not be changed to add fluoride to water supplies across the country as she published the national strategy last week.
Last summer the health board announced a public consultation on putting fluoride in the water in a bid to tackle the city’s high level decays. At the time it said there were powerful scientific arguments for fluoridation.
The report’s author, community care director Catriona Renfrew, told the board in August: “We encourage the Scottish Executive to facilitate the introduction of water fluoridation.”
But she admitted then it could take five years to implement.
Following the Executive’s decision against the move, Ms Brankin said record funding to overhaul dentistry would benefit every child in Scotland, and added: “Fluoridation alone would not deliver this.”
A spokeswoman revealed 97% of responses from the public to an executive consultation opposed fluoridation.
The health board’s decision was immediately criticised by leading dentist Frank Angell who said the NHS had abandoned a vital weapon against decay.
David Walker, deputy director for planning and community care, yesterday presented the board’s own strategy.
It will focus on prevention and making sure vulnerable groups are treated.
But Mr Walker said: “The strategy is not advocating the addition of fluoride to the water supply.”
Dr Angell, the chairman of the area clinical forum, launched a scathing attack on the Scottish Executive’s Oral Health Strategy, saying it had caved in to campaigns against fluoridation.
Dr Angell said: “Ministers do not see the pain of a five-year-old who has to have multiple extractions.
“I am not saying fluoride must be put into the water but I am saying we have to look properly at the evidence and that has not been done.”
*Note from FAN:
For a further understanding of the Scottish Childsmile program, which was created because of the Scottish Executive’s decision not to fluoridate, go to http://fluoridealert.org/content/childsmile/