Avoidable death 32% higher in the West Midlands’ most deprived cities

Josh A. Tilley – CC BY-SA 2.0

People living in Sandwell, Wolverhampton, Stoke-on-Trent, and Birmingham are more likely to die prematurely.

A BBC analysis reveals that there is a strong correlation between avoidable mortality and the level of deprivation in an area.

Even when considering the statistical variation due to smaller population sizes, those four towns reported the highest avoidable death rates in the region between 2014 and 2016, figures from the Office of National Statistics provided by the BBC’s Shared Data Unit shows.

Sandwell, Wolverhampton, Stoke-on-Trent, and Birmingham are also in the worst places in the Deprivation Index, which includes socio-economic variables such as income, education and health assistance.

Click on the chart to explore the information of each local authority:

Information about the chart: This funnel plot considers the population size when visualising the death rate.Blue lines limit the random variation expected according to the population size.

Ashleigh Doggett, a senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said:

“Socio-economic factors have a significant effect on someone’s risk of heart and circulatory diseases. This is largely due to unhealthier lifestyles, such as being more likely to smoke and less likely to regularly eat fruit and vegetables.”

Jon Date, head of the external affairs at the independent think tank the International Longevity Centre, told the BBC:

“Our Inequalities Matter report found that although life expectancy is increasing overall in the UK, improvements are slower paced in more deprived areas meaning that the gap in life expectancy between the rich and poor is slowly worsening over time.”

Avoidable deaths are 32% higher

On average, 219 people per 100,000 died prematurely in the West Midlands. The figure is similar to England’s mean, and around half of the cities from the West Midlands are below that number.

However, there are 67 more deaths per 100,000 inhabitants within the 25% most deprived than in the rest of the region, that means a 32% higher chance of dying prematurely in these eight most disadvantaged cities.

Look at the information about your local authority: 

Preventable and treatable mortality

People under 75 whose deaths could have been prevented and/or treatable are considered “avoidable deaths.” That includes deaths from diabetes, heart disease, respiratory conditions, and some cancers, among others types.

According to the ONS, this type of mortality represents nearly a quarter (24%) of all the UK deaths.

The government is taking “strong action on helping people live longer and healthier lives,” a spokesperson from the Department of Health and Social Care told the BBC.

Among other measures, she mentioned “the world’s first national diabetes prevention programme,” and actions regarding vaccination, childhood obesity, health checks and tobacco control.

She added that more than £16bn was being invested in local government services in the current spending period to tackle public health issues and another £98m in a healthy ageing programme.

Read the methodology and get the data here. 

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