Hull fluoridation bid attacked by local councillors

Hull fluoridation bid attacked by local councillors

Plans to add fluoride to the water supply of more than 340,000 people in Hull and the East Riding to address some of the worst rates of tooth decay in the country “will not happen”, according to a councillor. But the BDA has slammed such misleading comments that could sound the death knell of fluoridation there.

Fluoridation was championed as the best way of tackling poor oral health by the former chairman of the health and wellbeing board Coun Colin Inglis, who retired this year, but was opposed by campaigners, the Lib Dem opposition and some Labour councillors. New health and wellbeing chairwoman Coun Hester Bridges said fluoridation was “unlikely,” given the lack of “overwhelming” evidence and “massive” opposition.

Yorkshire Water is carrying out a £68,000 feasibility study, but Cabinet member Phil Webster said he would not countenance the spending of “one more penny on this foolhardy scheme” and there was “no appetite for it whatsoever.” He said it was “too expensive, undemocratic and unproven,” adding: “I’ve always said I think it is forced medication by the State. To quote Monty Python the scheme is no more. I am in charge of finance and I can confidently say it won’t be happening.”

The British Dental Association (BDA) has slammed misleading comments from Hull councillors that appear to sound the death knell of England’s latest fluoridation bid -  and called on central government to step up and guarantee financial support to councils across England seeking to explore proposals. 

The Hull proposals - which are backed by the BDA and former Health Secretary and Hull MP Alan Johnson - were unveiled more than three years ago.  With local public health budgets facing swingeing cuts to public health budgets, the BDA has said central government has a duty to support councils with costs of evaluation and consultation, who have to face off well-resourced and highly mobilised anti-fluoridation campaigners, that have helped derail previous bids in areas like Southampton. 

The BDA’s Health and Science Chair Russ Ladwa said: “The UK government’s own models show fluoridation could shave millions off the bill for extracting kids’ teeth in hospitals. Sadly cash-strapped councils have been given no support to even consider the single most cost-effective intervention.

“Councillors have a responsibility not to peddle myths or ‘alternative facts’. Fluoridation is a proven method of reducing the huge burden of childhood decay. Yes, town hall accountants lack resources, but they must not use that as basis to misrepresent a clear scientific consensus.

“If Hull waves a white flag it will be a victory for the professional doom mongers, that will only discourage communities across England from exploring proposals that could save hundreds of thousands of children and adults from needless pain and distress.”

Simon Hearnshaw
The Hull Fluoridation Campaign is far from over and there is a lot that Practitioners can do to support. The most significant barrier to implementation is the recurrent costs to Councils but in the case of Hull the CCG has committed to funding this. In many respects this means that Hull City Council can now ignore the financial barrier to Fluoridation and concentrate on the science and the benefits. So what can we all do?
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If we can support Hull City Council and the Health and Wellbeing Board in a decision to go out to Public Consultation I am sure the science and the benefits arguments will prevail. But Hull LDC and the BDA ( who are already well and truly on board thanks to Russ and Eddie) need all of us to play a part. Thanks.


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