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New Website Gives North Yorkshire Figures For Causes Of Early Death


7:23am 11th June 2013

Almost seven thousand people in York and North Yorkshire died from preventable illnesses in the last two years.

North Yorkshire did better than York on cancer, lung disease and liver disease but the city was better at tackling heart disease.

York came bottom of a table of fifteen similar councils but was near the top third when compared to all councils in the country.

The figures come as a new website is launched, showing significant variation in early death rates to drive public awareness and local action to tackle public health problems.

Longer Lives, is a new Public Health England (PHE) website which allows local people to easily see information for local authority areas across Yorkshire and the Humber on early deaths from major killers, like heart disease, stroke and cancer, and how it varies across areas, and the country.

Using a traffic-light rating system, Longer Lives ranks areas showing those above average in tackling avoidable deaths as green, while those that still have more to do, are red.

The data and website will provide local areas with information on the number of premature deaths (under the age of 75) from each of England’s four biggest killers – cancer, heart disease and stroke, lung disease and liver disease. Local areas will be able to use the data to help them understand their own position and better target efforts to improve the health of the people they serve.

The website contains a range of data that for the first time allows people to easily compare an area’s mortality against areas with similar populations, incomes and levels of health. Overall it shows that the north of England has a higher risk of early death than the south, but when comparing areas of a similar socioeconomic status it reveals a more complex picture.

Prof Paul Johnstone, Regional Director for PHE in the North of England, said: “It’s important to be clear that there are lots of reasons why discrepancies in levels of health exist. Lots of issues like being in a job, living in safe housing, good town planning with green spaces and leisure areas and access to good education all affect how healthy people are. One of the opportunities in moving public health from the NHS into local government is to help tackle these wider issues.

“Not everything can be done locally either. Job creation, regeneration and policies on childhood poverty, alcohol consumption, tobacco, educational attainment and promoting healthy eating are also the responsibility of national government, Going forward, we need a joined up approach, across areas and nationally, to look at how by working together we can really turn things round.

"We have seen good inroads made already into driving down early deaths from some of these major killers and narrowing the inequalities gap in some parts of the North of England, but there is no doubt much more needs to be done. PHE in the north will now be supporting and looking at ways we can establish a collaboration with our key partners to address these issues together, involving the whole country where necessary and sharing good practice.”

Dr Stephen Morton, Director of the PHE Yorkshire & the Humber Centre, said: “Longer Lives will support local government in its new role as the champion for their public’s health. It presents a clear picture of health in local areas – where it is good and where there is more to do – so everyone involved can consider and agree how to make improvements from a common basis of the same information.

“The website goes further than just data – it also contains evidence of what needs to be done and case studies of what has been successful elsewhere. Longer Lives has the potential to make a real difference to the health of each and every community in Yorkshire and the Humber and we’ll be working hard with local authorities and all our partners to bring about the changes we need.

“The evidence is clear - a person’s likelihood of dying prematurely from one of the top four killers varies widely between local authorities due to differences in risk factors, such as obesity, alcohol and smoking and that these are closely linked to economic deprivation.”

Local councils have been given a pivotal role in leading the local health and care system, through their Health and Well-being Boards, to improve the health of their local citizens. Their new public health role was part of the changes to the whole health system in April 2013, part of a move to empower local areas to make real change in people’s lives. To help them deliver these improvements the government has given them £5.46bn of funding.

The Longer Lives website provides examples of best practice from other local authorities, guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), and links to NHS Choices so that individuals, families and citizens can learn about these conditions and what they can to do to improve their health.

This data is the first information to be rolled out as part of the Government’s plans to provide the public and health professionals in local areas with clear easy accessible information on how health and care services are doing in improving health outcomes wherever we live.  

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