5 Jun 2009

Lymington Times - Fluoride 'bias' probe set for slow progress, warns MP

Fluoride 'bias' probe set for slow progress, warns MP
9,000-name petition heading to Number 10 next week
INVESTIGATING accusations of bias against the fluoride consultation in Totton is taking longer than expected because of the scale of objections.
Legal advice is also being sought by the ombudsman which settles NHS disputes, according to New Forest East MP Julian Lewis, who jointly complained with Totton councillor David Harrison, alongside several others,
And on Tuesday, a petition of 9,000 names will be delivered to Number 10 by campaign group Hampshire Against Fluoride, including more than 300 gathered In Totton to stop what they say is "forced medication" which they fear has harmful side effects.
Some 8,000 people in Totton are among 190,000 due to have fluoride in 2010 after the South Central Strategic Health Authority (SHA) approved Southampton Primary Care Trust's proposals, which affect areas outside the city because of the layout of the pipes,
Dr Lewis said: "I am not surprised that the ombudsman and her advisers are weighing each move carefully, because they must be aware that if the SHA succeeds in flouting public opinion by means of a bogus consultation here in Totton, it would be a blueprint for equally arrogant behaviour by other SHAs all over the country,
"A great deal turns on the outcome of the complaint,"
Coun. Harrison added: "I hope the ombudsman will uphold our joint complaint and force the SHA to reconsider its approach."
Their accusations included: "biased" information handed out, health secretary Alan Johnson speaking in favour of fluoridatlon during the consultation, objections being "ignored", and the trust campaigning for its own plans,
But a SHA spokesperson said: "The board of the SHA is confident that the decision that has been made was carried out In accordance with the relevant legislation and in the best interests of the health of local people.
"Local people should be reassured that major professional medical organisations such as the British Dental Association, British Medical Association and World Health
Organisation all fully endorse water fluoridatlon as a safe and effective way to improve dental health."
However, fluoridation could be delayed if the charge of bias is upheld and a re-run consultation is ordered — which cost £166,440 last time, according to the SHA.
Although the ombudsman cannot ultimately order the SHA to re-run the consultation, its recommendations are usually followed and the Department for Health will see any report—and it can demand a re-run.
A spokeswoman for the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman said: "We do not make any comments on cases as they are carried out in confidentiality."

No comments: