31 Jul 2009

Lymington Times

Legal action holds up fluoride consultation 'bias' investigation
LEGAL action has put on hold a complaint of bias against NHS chiefs who agreed fluoride plans that will affect the drinking water of 8,000 people in Totton.
New Forest East MP Julian Lewis and county councillor David Harrison both went to the health ombudsman alleging the consultation was one-sided and ignored residents' opposition.
But a Southampton resident's bid for a judicial review into adding the controversial chemical to water to Southampton and surrounding areas by 2010 — which could affect about 100,000 people in total — has
stopped an investigation for now.
The ombudsman's office wrote to Dr Lewis that it would be "inappropriate for the ombudsman to undertake an investigation until after the conclusion of any court proceedings".
Dr Lewis said: "Of the two methods of tackling this problem, the Judicial review is undoubtedly more important. It would be valuable if the ombudsman eventually condemns the flawed and biased consultation staged by the SHA.
"However, the intervention of the court, if successful, would be a far bigger setback for the pro-fluoride
fanatics." A decision on whether the court case will go ahead is expected in August.
Coun. Harrison added: "It must be increasingly obvious to the SHA that it cannot proceed without public consent. Even if the legal challenge fails, it will still have to overcome a ruling by the ombudsman."
Southampton Primary Care Trust's scheme was approved In February by the South Central Strategic Health Authority (SHA), despite a Mori poll showing 38% opposed against 32% in support.
A 15,000-name petition was delivered to Downing Street calling on
the decision to be reversed and among people who responded to the consultation, 72% were against.
The bid by Geraldine Milner for a judicial review said fluoridation should not have been approved because public opinion was against it, opponents' arguments were not properly considered, and scientific evidence was misrepresented.
The SHA argued fluoridation was key to reducing above average child tooth decay in Southampton and said there was no evidence of any harm caused beyond occasional mottling of teeth, known as fluorosls.

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