Southern Daily Echo – 19 December 2008
One of Hampshire’s top politicians has condemned plans to fluoridate tap water – and has described the public consultation as a sham. New Forest East MP Julian Lewis claims the South Central Strategic Health Authority (SHA) will ignore the views of objectors and forge ahead with the controversial scheme.
Dr Lewis says householders will have to drink artificially medicated water because a minority of residents neglect their teeth. But the SHA has hit back, claiming no decision will be made until a full and independent analysis of the responses received during the consultation period – which ends at midnight tonight – has been collated and reported to the board.
Southampton City Primary Care Trust says fluoridation will reduce dental decay in the area, especially among children living in more deprived parts. However, opponents argue that the plans amount to unethical mass medication, which removes individuals’ right to choose. They also claim that increasing the amount of fluoride in drinking water from 0.08 parts per million to one part per million could cause health problems.
The area affected includes Totton, which is part of Dr Lewis’ constituency. In a hard-hitting letter to the SHA the MP says:
“Large numbers of my constituents are to be forced to drink artificially medicated water because some children in Southampton are not being educated by their parents or their teachers to brush their teeth properly. The SHA has repeatedly made it clear that its mind is made up entirely in favour of fluoridation. It is therefore a waste of time for me, or any other person taking part in this shallow imitation of a consultation exercise, to put forward any scientific objection to the possible harmful effects of compulsory mass medication.
The SHA also makes it clear that it will not be bound by the numbers of objections it receives. It follows from this that the consultation is a sham because the SHA clearly intends to disregard all the arguments with which it disagrees.
I have taken the trouble to formulate this submission for the benefit of the people of Totton who elected me to represent their views – views which the SHA will have no hesitation in overriding.”
However, an SHA spokesman said the issue would not be decided until the February board meeting. He said the 14-week consultation period had included a leaflet drop to 110,000 residents, nine drop-in sessions and three Question Time-style events.
“No decision will be made until a full and independent analysis of the responses received has been collated and reported,”
added the spokesman.