HOW SHOULD WE BE CONSULTED?
TEN VITAL DEMANDS
GENUINE CONSULTATION PROCESS
(and the DoH’s reaction)
1. Ensure democratic accountability
Public opinion should be tested by a referendum and a clear rejection by the public must be accepted.
2.The purpose of a consultation is investigation, not propaganda.
There must not be any presumption in favour of fluoridation either before or during the consultation.
3 Provide a fair hearing for all
At least equal prominence must be given to views opposing as to views supporting a proposal, where such views exist. This means that public funding must be provided if necessary to publicise opposing views, that at least matches public funding used to promote the proposal A consultation process may be challenged on the basis of unequal allocation of funding, including the use of health and other budgets, and if shown to be flawed, the consultation may be extended, aborted, or recommenced.
4. Allow for Opting out
Residents who need or wish to opt out in an affected area must be able to obtain fluoride-free water, both for drinking and /or other personal use without additional personal cost.
5. Consider the vulnerable
Vulnerable groups should be identified and, where fluoridation exists, provided immediately with the means of obtaining fluoride-free drinking water. Any proposal must fully cater for the needs of individuals who are allergic to fluoride, or who might receive excessive amounts, such as kidney dialysis patients as well as the elderly and the young.
6. Use only genuine statistics, acceptable by all participants.
‘Cost-benefit analyses’, or other financial cases that appear to have been made by including spurious statistics, ignoring costs and inflating benefits, must be open to public challenge There must be a commitment to publishing only complete and realistic figures of cost and supposed benefits.
7. Engage in comprehensive and unbiased research.
Public Health England must provide a neutral service and its reporting must be factual. In particular, use of statistics such as measures of tooth decay in 5-year olds (rather than, say, 12 year olds) must be justified as being representative and unaffected by external factors.
8. Investigate existing damage
A large scale truly independent survey to establish the extent of any harm that may be caused by excessive fluoride intake should be conducted in areas currently fluoridated before implementing any new schemes.
9. Ensure valid opinions cannot be ignored or overruled
In assessing the evidence base of information provided, the same criteria must apply to material provided by those promoting the scheme, as those opposing or questioning it, including responses to claims made in official publicity or web sites prior to the consultation.
10. Promote and simplify the termination of any existing schemes.
A simple majority of elected representatives (councillors) should suffice to end any scheme. The water provider must then immediately cease adding the specified chemicals. A full consultation process is therefore only necessary if there is a proposal to reverse the decision to terminate or recommence all or part of a former scheme.
This document has been prepared by the Safe Water Information Service in England. (SWIS)’