Fluoride Action Network

Health bosses in north-west postpone consultation scheme

Source: Daily Echo | July 27th, 2009 | By Jon Reeve
Location: United Kingdom, England

PLANS to fluoridate other parts of the UK have been put on hold – because of the campaign against the scheme in Hampshire.

Health bosses have postponed a consultation on a scheme to fluoridate parts of the north-west to wait for the results of a legal challenge against the decision to add the chemical to water supplies in and around Southampton.

The High Court is currently considering an application for a judicial review of South Central Strategic Health Author-ity’s (SHA) move to give the controversial scheme the green light.

The Hampshire scheme is the first in the country to be approved since a change in the law over how fluoridation is introduced.

A Southampton woman has been granted legal aid to lodge the legal bid, because she believes health bosses should not have approved the plans because of public opposition.

Papers have been filed by her solicitors and the SHA, and a senior judge is currently considering if there is a case to answer.

A decision is expected imminently.

If a review goes ahead and the decision is ruled unlawful, it could mean plans to add fluoride to the water supplies of almost 200,000 homes in parts of Southampton, Eastleigh, Totton, Netley and Rownhams have to be scrapped.

The SHA has set aside £400,000 to fight the challenge, saying it has done nothing wrong.

It has always insisted it met or exceeded all its legal requirements during the 14-week public consultation last year.

The pending legal action has already been given as a reason for the Government not intervening in the fluoride row, after campaigners collected 15,000 names on a petition urging action, and the health ombudsman not investigating the SHA.

Now it means other similar schemes have been put on the back burner.

Primary care trusts in the north-west were due to be asked to consider fluoridation plans this summer, but that has now been put back until at least the autumn, and possibly next year.

In a statement, NHS North West’s chief executive Mike Farrar said costs of potential schemes in the area, which could cover Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire and Cumbria, have “increased significantly”.

“Should permission be granted, the process may take several months and it is prudent for NHS North West to wait for the outcome before committing significant resources on this matter,” said Mr Farrar.