Early deaths: Regional variations 'shocking' - Hunt


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The local variation in early death rates revealed in a new league table for England is "shocking" and must drive action to improve health, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said.

Public Health England's Longer Lives website, which ranks local authorities, shows people in north-west England are at the greatest risk of dying early.

Mr Hunt said the data could be used to tackle smoking, drinking and obesity.

Labour called for a "One Nation approach" to end health inequalities.

The league table uses a colour system to rate areas tackling premature deaths from red for the worst to green for the best, comparing the number of people under the age of 75 who died over a two-year period.

Map: Overall premature deaths

A statement from the Department of Health said the data would "provide local areas with information to help them understand their own position" and target specific health challenges.

In April, councils became responsible for encouraging people to stop smoking, eat better, drink less alcohol and face up to other public health problems.


Around 153,000 people die prematurely each year in England, with three quarters of those deaths down to cancer, heart attack or stroke, lung disease and liver disease - according to Public Health England.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt: "There are some big surprises in the data"

Manchester, Blackpool, Liverpool and Salford have the highest rates of early deaths, the figures show.

Socio-economic background plays a large part in life expectancy and is part of the explanation of the regional divide.

The new analysis also allows councils to compare themselves with others with a similar background.

York is classed as a "least deprived" area and appears green at a national level, yet it comes bottom when compared with other "least deprived" districts.

Waltham Forest in London is among the 15 most deprived areas, yet ranks 73rd out of 150 councils.

Of the early deaths, 103,000 are classed as preventable. The hope is that councils can learn from each other to reduce deaths in their area.

Start Quote

This shocking variation in early and unnecessary deaths means people's lives are needlessly cut short, and that cannot continue unchecked”

End Quote Jeremy Hunt Health Secretary

Commenting on the data, Public Health England's Prof John Newton said the premature mortality figures had improved, but the UK was still seventh out of 17 European countries for men and 15th for women.

Prof Newton told the BBC there were many factors at play.

"Although our behaviours have an impact, and we all need to take responsibility for our own health, you have to see the social, economic, cultural context and you also have to look at the environment - housing, education, transport - all of those have an effect on our health," he said.

"So it's no one thing in isolation, and that's why so many different organisations have to take note of this data, and think about what they can do."

Top ten areas Premature death rate (per 100,000 people) Bottom ten areas Premature death rate (per 100,000 people)

Based on data for 2009-11





Richmond upon Thames




Dorset County Council




Surrey County Council




South Gloucestershire


City of Kingston upon Hull










Kensington and Chelsea


Blackburn with Darwen






Hampshire County Council




Mr Hunt said: "This shocking variation in early and unnecessary deaths means people's lives are needlessly cut short, and that cannot continue unchecked.

"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."

He said the "profound" differences between similar areas showed that councils could learn from each other.

He told the BBC: "If you compare for example two leafy commuter counties like Hertfordshire and Surrey, what you find surprisingly is that the mortality rate in Hertfordshire is 10% higher than Surrey, so if they just matched the Surrey mortality rate in Hertfordshire they'd actually save more than 200 lives every year."

He said banning fizzy drinks in schools was an issue "local authorities should look at".

Local authorities are being given £5.4bn over two years for public health.

The Local Government Association said the analysis would provide "useful insight," but it urged caution.

Cllr Zoe Patrick, chairwoman of the organisation's community wellbeing board, said: "Using it out of context to create any sort of national league table dangerously oversimplifies matters and ignores the very complex socio-economic and cultural factors that affect the premature mortality rate.

"Attempts to measure performance and rank councils in this way are therefore deeply troubling. Not to mention that improving the public's health is not the sole responsibility of local government. 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.

"Government must make a long-term commitment to public health and provide councils with the right resources if we are going to have a real impact."

Labour's shadow public health minister, Diane Abbott, said: "There can be no more chilling form of inequality than someone's social status at birth determining the timing of their death - and that is why Labour is putting our mission to tackle health inequalities at the heart of our approach to public health."

"We need a One Nation approach to public health," she added.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 423.

    Typical BBC Palookaville propagandist rubbish, show an image of a pint glass, suggest self inflicted or feckless behaviour. Pockets of severe health inequality historically occur in all areas, and the poorer you are, the sooner you die, GPs health providers have no incentive to protect the poor, because they have no value to the gangster political class

  • rate this

    Comment number 422.

    391 - SeeDubya "This IS her legacy"

    If one accepts that Thatcher was a ruthless PM & a significant number of the electorate are currently suffering under her "legacy", then one has to accept that it remains a legacy after 23 years because successive Governments have done little to change it. If they had, the "legacy" would not exist.

  • rate this

    Comment number 421.

    46 Minutes ago
    the real Diane Abbott who is truly a good and sensible person. Shame about the party though....


    That same person was on a BBC programme in which a "celebrity" would give up items to auction for a charity. She relied on gifts from a friend for most of the money raised.

  • rate this

    Comment number 420.

    This sends the message that there is no point paying into a pension if you live in one of these areas.

    Postcode lottery indeed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 419.

    The press overemphasise the effects of unhealthy habits. My husband was fit, watched his weight, drank in moderation and died unexpectedly of a heart attack at 50. Trying to make sense of this, I was told that most of it is down to genetics and that lifestyle has a very limited effect.

  • rate this

    Comment number 418.


    Making alcohol and tobacco illeagal won't help at all. Unless you want it regulated by criminal gangs and want most of the country to have criminal records. They tried prohabition in the USA in the 1930s and it was a disaster.

  • rate this

    Comment number 417.

    Unemployment, poverty and lack of opportunity are the major factors, not that in the north west they’re idle, poor and thick, but in many cases, they’re what’s left after young, fit and well educated have followed the jobs south.

    The map simply shows the post-industrial wasteland or Thatcher’s Service economy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 416.

    Cue the usual Con rubbish about how it's all about teaching people how to make a healthy low fat meal and how rubbish and inferior for eating ordinary food. You can't deal with an alchol, bad food, smoking and drugs culture without dealing with the underlying problems, of lack of hope and societal neglect. No end of "healthy" blaming the victim will work without dealing with the CAUSES.

  • rate this

    Comment number 415.

    Whats happened out there has the daily mail not been printed today ?
    Lots of frothing at the mouth this early in the day !

  • rate this

    Comment number 414.

    But if people stop eating burgers, smoking and drinking would the pension system collapse?

  • rate this

    Comment number 413.

    Any correlation between the areas with the lowest life expectancy and that those areas have held Labour seats for decades?

  • rate this

    Comment number 412.

    Based on my own empirical research and observation I think there is a strong statistical association between being overweight, unhealthy, ignorant, wearing tattoos and owning a Staffordshire bull terrier.

  • rate this

    Comment number 411.

    400.CURTAINS 2012
    You ignored the "living at our expense"
    What are you on about now?

  • rate this

    Comment number 410.


    I wouldn't bother with jgm2, he is quite a disturbed individual and borderline sociopathic if he actually believes the drivel he posts and is not just on the wind up.

    Either way, one to be avoided.

  • rate this

    Comment number 409.

    I have never been visited by the "Goverment" and forced to eat, drink & smoke too much. I have always been able to do these things on my own...well, my parents taught me to eat & drink....the smoking I learnt from my mate Caz at school.

  • rate this

    Comment number 408.

    391 See

    'people who are now dying early are the ones whose lives she wrecked... turned them to drink..'

    What utter nonsense. Fatcha saved these people. She saved them from a life of fear and danger underground. She saved them from a whole raft of industrial diseases. She emancipated these poor workers from their shocking working conditions and evil bosses.

    She INCREASED their longevity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 407.

    Our social and eating habits need to reflect our sedentry lifestyles or we will get fatter and may die earlier. Its as simple as that. It is not more expensive to eat healthily it just requires a bit of effort.
    Its about individuals taking some responsibility for themselves, to blame it on deprivation is pathetic, it encourages people to behave like children.

  • rate this

    Comment number 406.

    And once again I see that the New Traitor Party has all of the answers to the UK's problems whilst in opposition.

    What a pity their 13 year stint in office left this country bankrupt and flooded with a million penniless immigrants that require hand-outs for the next fifty years.

    Well done Tony and Gordon.
    Your unwashed UAF followers must be very proud of you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 405.

    The state can only do so much.Everywhere there are campaigns highlighting the dangers of smoking,obesity and alcohol.At some point a person has to take responsibility for their own health and their family.We know that obesity and alcohol are going to be 2 significant problems in the future and the DoH are trying to get the point across.

    Short of rationing there ain't much more they can do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 404.

    I don't understand. Sec of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt says that councils should look at schools banning fizzy drinks. Yet, Sec for State for Education, Michael Gove, says councils should not interfere with schools and creates hundreds of 'free' schools that can do what they please. It would be lovely if the left and right hand knew what they were doing and saying.


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