CDO backs changes
 

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CDO backs changes

 

CDO backs changes

The NHS is planning a major push to encourage health authorities to fluoridate the water supply.

Dr Barry Cockroft, England’s new chief dental officer, said fluoridation was the ‘single most important change’ the health service could make to improve oral health.

Only 10% of UK homes and businesses currently receives fluoridated water. Fluoridation has been introduced patchily across England since 1964, and the percentage of those with fluoridated water varies wildly.

For example, 97% of residents living within the borders of the former Birmingham and the Black Country Strategic Health Authority (SHA) receive fluoridated water, compared with just 6% in the area covered by the former Cumbria and Lancashire SHA. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland’s water supplies are not fluoridated.

SHAs may, at the request of Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), undertake technical feasibility and cost-effectiveness studies before launching a formal public consultation.

If the SHA is satisfied that the health arguments in favour outweigh the arguments against it, it can then employ a water company to fluoridate its supply. Health authorities in Hampshire and Greater Manchester are currently in the early stages of investigating the possibility of fluoridation.

The government has long been convinced of the health benefits of water fluoridation – rejecting fears it could be linked to bone cancer in children.

But the latest comments by Dr Cockroft suggest NHS bosses plan to open a new front in the campaign for fluoridation. Dr Cockroft said: ‘I want to see a real debate open up on the benefits of fluoridation as I believe it is the single most important change we can make to improve the oral health of the country, now and for future generations.

‘The key priority for me now is to provide support to SHAs as they consider introducing new fluoridation schemes and start consulting with their local populations.’

The British Fluoridation Society (BFS) argues that fluoridation is so effective at reducing tooth decay, it could virtually wipe out the need to extract children’s teeth under general anaesthetic.

Spokeswoman Sheila Jones said the most appropriate areas for fluoridation were those with high levels of tooth decay and large populations, such as the North West of England and parts of Yorkshire, Wales and Scotland.

Dr Cockroft described the reorganisation of NHS dentistry as ‘the beginning of change not the end of change’.

He said: ‘Oral health in England has markedly improved since the start of the NHS. Dental decay in children has steadily reduced through better education and improved diets, but there is still far more to do.’

By Andy Tate, parliamentary correspondent

 Posted on : Thu 31st - Aug - 2006

 

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