Christmas Was February
As a committed Labour Party member it is quite something to be impressed by a Conservative Party Minister and Secretary of State for Health, but I have to say this is precisely the case. The recently published proposals on fluoridation represent a clear intention to act. There’s a lot of talk around reducing inequalities and levelling up but precious little action. This is different, it’s a clear intention to support communities and improve oral health and preventing the consequences of poor health, pain, sleepless nights, extractions, poor self-esteem.
Since Hull LDC started campaigning for targeted community water fluoridation back in 2012, we have always struggled to get any kind of high office traction. CWF has had support at this level of Government before with Alan Johnson but more recently it’s been a struggle to get the public health messages across to Parliament.
For years we have been banging the drum about national government paying the capital and revenue costs instead of Councils because it’s the NHS that benefits from the return on investment ( an incredible £21.96 for every £1 invested over ten years https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/560973/ROI_oral_health_interventions.pdf ).
For years we have been proposing motions at LDC Conference asking for Government to support Councils moving forward with fluoridation around public consultation costs and administration (and thanks to all those LDCs who voted in support).
For almost a decade we have been asking for changes that remove barriers and streamline the process including Government paying for water company feasibility studies. So imagine our response when we saw the proposals in the white paper Integration and Innovation (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/working-together-to-improve-health-and-social-care-for-all/integration-and-innovation-working-together-to-improve-health-and-social-care-for-all-html-version) . All of this was in a stroke sorted, boxed off, done. A huge thanks to PHE who must have done a huge amount of work advising Matt and Jo. In bowling parlance this is more than a strike – it’s a four-bagger.
Part of the learning from Covid is that where there were social-health inequalities pre-pandemic, theses inequalities widened. We need greater prevention resilience and water fluoridation is one way of supporting this.
The bill still needs to pass through Parliament intact so this year Hull LDCs motions will ask Conference to support the fluoridation proposals within the white paper. In simple terms this is about improving health and fairness. I never thought I’d hear myself say this – but thankyou Matt and Jo – these proposals really are a game-changer for fluoridation, oral health and improving lives. This year, for me, Christmas really was in February.
The National CWF Network is co-hosting a free reducing oral health inequalities event with HEE Yorkshire & Humber on June 25th 14:00 to 16:30. We have Sir Michael Marmot, Alan Johnson, Jenny Godson, Greg fell, Claire Stevens and Barry Cockcroft Stevens speaking – all welcome: