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'Shocking' differences in local death rates revealed

“Shocking” local variation in early death rates has been revealed today in a drive to prompt local councils and the NHS to tackle public health problems. 

A new website  launched by Public Health England (PHE) allows people to see how their local area performs in terns of early deaths from major killers such as heart disease and cancer. 

Part of the PHE Longer Lives campaign, the website ranks areas using a traffic light system. 

“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,” said Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. 

He added: “Being more transparent will also allow professionals and the public to see how their local area is performing over time, allowing them to intervene and make improvements happen.”

Overall, the website shows that the north of England has a higher risk of early death than the south, but when comparing areas of a similar socio-economic status it reveals a more complex picture. 

For example, Rotherham and Redcar & Cleveland have the best rates of reducing premature deaths amongst those local authorities with the greatest levels of deprivation, whilst areas such as Bracknell Forest and Central Bedfordshire have the worst rates of premature mortality amongst the most affluent local authorities. 

Some areas do well on most measures, however some have concerning scores for just one or two conditions.

Efforts to improve public health, such as smoking cessation, improved diet and early diagnosis, could dramatically reduce the 103,000 avoidable premature deaths in England every year, PHE claims.