CONTROVERSIAL plans to add fluoride to Southampton’s tap water have today taken a major step forward.
Health chiefs have agreed to launch a public consultation gauging opinion of the city’s residents on proposals that would see 67 per cent of them receiving fluoridated water.
Southampton has one of the poorest records for dental health among children of anywhere in the country and the city’s Primary Care Trust (PCT) sees fluoridation as a solution.
Today its call for a £178,000 public debate on plans to add the mineral to mains supplies was backed by the South Central Strategic Health Authority (SCSHA), which oversees healthcare in the region.
Despite opposition from campaigners who claim fluoridation has negative side effects including brittle bones, brain damage skeletal fluorosis and bone cancer, the SCSHA board unanimously agreed to launch the public consultation.
“We want to find out the level of public support and want to gauge opinion once people have the chance to understand what it’s all about,” said Professor John Newton, regional director of public health.
The consultation is likely to start in August.
The results will be independently assessed and will go before the health authorities board for a final decision in January next year.