A consultation on what local authorities should do and who they should involve when considering water fluoridation schemes has been launched today by Public Health Minister Anne Milton.
Views are being sought solely on the process by which local authorities carry out consultations and decision-making on new and existing fluoridation proposals - not on the pros or cons of fluoridation itself.
These changes are prompted by the abolition of Strategic Health Authorities, which currently carry out this role, and means local authorities will be given new responsibilities and powers to improve the health of their communities.
This will mean ensuring local people’s opinions on fluoridation are considered before decisions are made to adopt, change or end fluoridation programmes.
This is just one of a raft of improvements that, from April 2013, will give greater power and responsibility to local authorities to make a real impact in improving the health of their local community.
Public Health Minister Anne Milton said:
“Decision-making on public health issues should be made at the local level where they understand what is needed and where the community’s voice can best be heard.
“We want to hear as many views as possible about how this process should work when local authorities get their new powers next year - I encourage everyone to take part.”
Strategic Health Authorities currently have the responsibility for considering changes to fluoridation in local areas, but this consultation is about how this power is taken over by local authorities.
It will seek views on a range of processes related to making local decisions including how public views are considered and how joint decisions are made in areas where water supply covers more than on local authority.
The consultation will be open for responses from 4 September to 27 November. Any person, business or organisation with an interest is encouraged to respond.
Any decisions will only be taken after full consideration is given to consultation responses, evidence and other relevant information.
Notes to Editors:
- A range of opinions exist on the benefits and risks of fluoridation - the process of adding fluoride to drinking water. The consultation will focus on how proposals on fluoridation schemes are taken forward including how public views are sought and how decisions are taken.
- Currently 5.5 million people in England drink fluoridated water in areas such as Workington, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Crewe, Mansfield, Lincoln, Birmingham and Bedford.
- A copy of the consultation can be found at http://consultations.dh.gov.uk#
- For further information, call the Department of Health press office on 020 7210 5221