Rates of premature death in England are highest in the north-west and lowest in the south-east, according to new data from Public Health England (PHE).
According to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, this “shocking” regional variation in avoidable deaths can be addressed through policies to deal with “smoking, drinking and obesity”.
However, Shadow Public Health Minister Diane Abbott (pictured) commented: “There can be no more chilling form of inequality than someone’s social status at birth determining the timing of their death.”
PHE’s Longer Lives website ranks local authorities in terms of premature death rates (aged below 75).
The four worst areas were in the north-east: Manchester (with 455 early deaths per 100,000 people in the last two years), Blackpool, Liverpool and Salford.
The lowest level was in Wokingham, Berkshire, (200), followed by Richmond upon Thames, Surrey (202).
According to PHE, over 150,000 people in England die prematurely each year and two-thirds of these deaths are preventable.
PHE claims the ‘league table’ will enable comparison between areas that have a similar background but different rates of premature death.
Jeremy Hunt said: “I want areas to use the data released today to identify local public health challenges like smoking, drinking and obesity and to take action to help achieve our ambition for saving 30,000 lives a year by 2020.”
Councillor Zoe Patrick, Chairwoman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, warned that creating a league table “dangerously oversimplifies matters and ignores the very complex socio-economic and cultural factors that affect the premature mortality rate.”
It wasn’t just a matter for local government, she argued: “We need to work with our partners in the NHS, PHE and central government to address a whole range of inequalities and issues in order to help everyone lead healthier lives.”