HAMPSHIRE health chiefs have backed plans to fluoridate the water supplies of some of its residents in a bid to improve dental health in Southampton.

The county’s primary care trust board has agreed to support the controversial initiative, which would see 36,000 people in Eastleigh, Totton and Netley receive fluoridated water.

Southampton City PCT has proposed the scheme for two-thirds of city residents in a bid to improve a poor record on tooth decay in five-year-olds.

Campaigners opposed to the scheme argue it is not proven to work, and carries the risk of side effects including mottled teeth, cancers and brittle bones.

Hampshire PCT board members accepted the public health benefits of the scheme, but want the body overseeing the ongoing public consultation to ensure the views of non-city residents are taken into account.

They will now be sending a formal response to South Central Strategic Health Authority, which will be making a final decision on fluoridation in February.