15 Jan 2011

Daily Echo - SHA's brush with justice?

SHA's brush with justice?
By Anna Peckham
On behalf of Hampshire Against Fluoridation.
AFTER nearly two years of argument about the decision by the Strategic Health Authority (SHA) to impose water fluoridation on the region, a hearing at the High Court in London later this month is finally set to examine the controversial issue.
This will be a test case and will look at the process of consultation and whether the decision to go ahead with fluoridation despite a lack of local support was what Parliament envisaged when the legislation was debated.
This has been a contentious issue from the beginning with 72 per cent of consultation respondents opposed to the scheme. Since the decision, all democratically elected councils and MPs in the affected areas have raised serious concerns and have asked for the decision to be reviewed. However, the SHA continues to insist that it has the right to ignore local opinion and will push forward with its plans regardless.
This makes no sense and has angered many. Such persistence is even more nonsensical given the fact that by 2013 the SHA will be abolished and public health decisions will be taken by the very same councils who have demanded a rethink about fluoridation! Moreover, the SHA is willing to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds fighting a judicial review and forcing this scheme through in their dying days despite knowing that local people and all locally elected councils and MPs are unhappy with this stance. To add to this debacle, once the SHA is abolished, there is the possibility that local councils may even decide to scrap the scheme.
Hampshire Against Fluoridation calls for an end to this profligate waste of NHS money which should be used for frontline services and not spent on a scheme that the majority of people do not .want. We would rather see oral health problems dealt with by targeted approaches which are proven to be effective in reducing dental health inequalities. Such interventions must begin at the pre-school stage with dental teams offering imaginative and effective programmes which are already being used in some parts of the UK. There is mounting scientific controversy about water fluoridation. Indeed, in a dramatic recent statement, the US government has announced that it is significantly lowering fluoride levels in water due to scientific concern. This follows similar moves in Canada, Eire and Hong Kong in recent years. Worldwide, fluoridation is only practised in a few countries with many communities deciding to stop the practice altogether.
It is clearly unethical to force people to ingest fluoride through the public drinking water supply and we hope that this will not be imposed upon us in Hampshire

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