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All smoke and mirrors!
The big lie - there is no 'National Fluoride Information Centre'
The Government's flagship 'Information Centre' is a lonely telephone answering machine in an abandoned building!
Doug Cross, 24th July 2009
When Health Secretary Alan Johnson (above left) attended the 2008 Annual Conference of the National Fluoride Information Centre (NFIC), he predictably echoed the familiar dogma of the pro--fluoridation lobby, urging Primary Care Trusts and Regional Health Authorities in England to "push forward with the consultation process about fluoridating water supplies".
He was followed by the Deputy Chief Dental Officer, Tony Jenner, who sang the praises of Manchester University for hosting the NFIC which, he said, was "making a positive contribution to raising the public’s general awareness about the value of water fluoridation."
But were they really aware of just how empty their welcoming speeches really were? Despite all their no-doubt earnest intentions, their words were mere meaningless rhetoric. They simply reinforced the cynical propaganda that has become the foundation of one of the most offensive medical scams ever perpetrated on the public by the UK's increasingly disreputable Department of Health.
For the NFIC is a charade; there is, in fact, nothing that resembles a 'National Centre' in the Coupland 3 Building of Manchester University - just a couple of (very) part-time staff and a deserted room with a telephone answering machine.
The whole set-up is a deliberate public relations scam by the Department of Health and its spin-doctors, an illusion designed to persuade the general public and, especially, health professionals across the entire country, that here is an academically respectable Centre of Excellence that provides reliable and unbiased information on which public decisions about water fluoridation can be based.
For the rotten truth behind all the hype, the frenetic busy-ness of International Conferences, and the sponsored research, is that it's all nothing but a facade. The Centre was designed to replace the Government's hopelessly ineffective propaganda outfit, the British Fluoridation Society, with more skilled professional manipulators of public opinion. A new operation, directed by professional spin-doctors, was essential to drive the Department's new programme to impose water fluoridation
on almost half of the population of England.
There was, inevitably, a problem. Public awareness of the dangers of water fluoridation is now far greater, since everyone has easy access to the world's scientific literature through the Internet. Resistance to earnest reassurances of the 'safety and efficacy' of fluoridation was becoming alarmingly high. So the new unit had to give at least an appearance of solid academic respectability - and where better than that hot-bed of fluoridation promotion, Manchester University's Dental Units.
When the Centre was set up, the University proudly trumpeted its hosting of the NFIC:
‘England’s first independent fluoride information centre has been launched using funding from the Department of Health, to meet an anticipated public demand for information after changes to the Government’s Water Bill.'
What it completely forgot is that the public is already very well aware of where it can find independent information on fluoridation - those sources already exist, and are not under tight Governmental control!
The semblance of academic respectability is boosted by the Centre's Annual Conference, attended by delegates from all over the world, and it channels some of its DoH funding of £125,000 a year into academic research aimed at improving knowledge about fluorides and fluoridation. The Centre's first Director, Professor Anthony Blinkhorn, enthusiastically encouraged the public to contact the Centre on its public Help Line, assuring us that "The helpline is manned Monday–Friday and incorporates an out-of-office voicemail service."
The Department's dynamic new ‘Information Centre’, with its full-time high-tech ‘Help Line’, has been in operation for the past five years, so you would be justified in assuming that it is a well-established and polished operation, with a busy Reception area and cabinets full of reliable leaflets and information sheets ready for inquirers to pick up and take away to study.
Health professionals across the country believe that the Centre has a substantial physical and academic presence, and its statements on fluoridation are received with appropriate gravity and respect throughout the Health Sector.
Coupland Building 3 reception - there's no-one here to direct you to the NFIC - the staff have never heard of it!
The laboratories were abandoned as 'unsuited to modern science'. The safe stands open and empty!
This is where the phone rings when you call the NFIC 'Help Line'. Inside - just an answering machine.
Health and Safety would have a field day here - timber with upstanding nails strewn on the stairs.
Not exactly the image of respectability that the Dept of Health endorses. This semi-deserted, dirty and dreary building is the permanent home of the elusive 'National Fluoride Information Centre'.
The reality - an abandoned building, 'unfit for modern science'.
And that, of course, is exactly the impression that the Dept of Health's promotion and publicity has been designed to provide. It is an unfortunate fact that the most successful hoaxers rely on their victims being willing and gullible enough to deceive themselves, and there has certainly been some expert manipulation of the public's perception of this supposedly prestigious National Centre of Excellence.
Government hype has persuaded lazy Health Service staff to swallow the propaganda pouring from the pro-fluoride spin machine - they don't have the time to check out the reliability of their sources, and assume that because the Department recommends the Centre, it must be kosher.
But In reality, the whole exercise is a public relations illusion. There is no 'Centre' in the Coupland 3 Building, the official address of the NFIC. Although the University spent £1.3 million renovating the building ten years ago, the School of Pharmacy moved out in 2007, because the building was 'unfit for modern science', and the building remains virtually abandoned.
When our Investigator walked in and asked a baffled receptionist and security man where the NFIC was, they were utterly confused. When he used his mobile phone to call the Help Line from the corridor, the phone in room CG117 rang; when he hung up, it stopped.
So it emerges that the dynamic heart of this busy and illustrious 'National Centre' is in fact an empty, tiny, but securely locked room, in a semi-derelict building on the Manchester University campus. On its dusty desk is a telephone answering machine. Kate Tidman, the nominal 'Communications Manager' of the Oral Health Unit and (very part-time) of the NFIC and an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, visits this forgotten outpost of the University for ten minutes or so, about once a week, to collect messages left by frustrated callers to the Centre's permanently un-manned 'Help Line'.
The desk drawers are empty, the cupboards bare. The building's reception, security and maintenance staff have never heard of the NFIC, and even the few researchers still inhabiting this shell are confused and vague about the NFIC's very existence.
So just what is going on here? The Centre's Annual report discloses only two members of staff. The Director, Prof. Robin Davies, is head of the Oral Health Unit, based in the Williamson
Building elsewhere on the campus, and also has a senior research post with Colgate. With his many research and management roles in the University's dental faculty, he is hardly able to spend a great deal of his valuable time twiddling his thumbs in a cramped and dusty room waiting to assist casual callers on the Help Line.
Ms Tidman also has a busy schedule in the Oral Health Unit - again hardly a job that would allow her to slot much of her time into a busy schedule, despite the supposed great demand for information from the NFIC that was so eagerly anticipated by the University back in 2004.
And since there is no sign anywhere in the room of all the 'information' that the Centre's website says the Centre can supply - room CG117 is indeed, totally bereft of any sign of any form of printed material at all - just where does Ms Tidman squirrel away this hoard of valuable guidance material?
As far as we can see, the £125,000 Department of Health grant to the NFIC goes towards maintaining a catchy web site where most of the documentation can be downloaded free of charge and, presumably, to cover the costs of running the annual Conference. The only two staff identified are both full-time employees of the Oral Health Unit, and are presumably paid out of its £2 million annual salaries budget, so just what is the DoH - sorry, our - money spent on?
The NFIC channels Department of Health funds (presumably not the cash included in the direct grant to the Centre) to sponsor research into such essential dental research as 'the assessment of facial attractiveness' in cases of dental fluorosis, as perceived by students. To our suspicious minds, this sounds suspiciously like an attempt to try to find just what degree of dental fluorosis the public can be persuaded is 'attractive', a desperate claim that we have heard several times recently from promoters of the more arcane 'benefits' of fluoridation.
The evidence that the NFIC is nothing more than a paper exercise exposes the depths to which this depraved Government and its autocratic Department of Health will go to mislead even health professionals that fluoridation is a viable therapeutic option, even under today's supposedly more enlightened approach to 'evidence-based' medicine. In our next issue we will discuss who is behind this scam, and how commercial interests now manipulate ingenuous politicians to over--ride ethical and prudent health care policies.