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Death records show growing north-south divide

Earlier mortality in the north of England indicates a growing health divide with the south, research finds

Earlier mortality in the north of England indicates a growing health divide with the south, research found.

A study of death records shows people in the north are 20% more like to die early – under the age of 75 – than those in the south of England.

The study, led by the University of Manchester, found there were 14,333 more premature deaths in the north than the south in 2015, and 1.2 million more early deaths in the north between 1965 and 2015.

Deaths of people in middle age have been rising since the mid-1990s and there were 49% more among 35 to 44-year-olds in the north than the south in 2015, and 29% more among 25 to 34-year-olds.

A tale of two Englands

Lead researcher Professor Iain Buchan said: 'Five decades of death records tell a tale of two Englands, north and south, divided by resources and life expectancy – a profound inequality resistant to the public health interventions of successive governments.

'A new approach is required, one that must address the economic and social factors that underpin early deaths, especially in younger populations, and one that focuses on rebalancing the wider economy to help drive investment in northern towns and cities.

The study used data from the Office for National Statistics on the whole English population from 1965 to 2015 and was supported by the Health eResearch Centre at the University of Manchester, which is part of the Farr Institute and funded through a consortium of 10 partners led by the Medical Research Council.

‘This must be a government priority’

Hakim Yadi, chief executive of the Northern Health Science Alliance, a partnership of universities and NHS organisations, said addressing health inequalities between the north and south must be a government priority.

The full results will be published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

A government spokesperson said: 'The causes of health inequalities are complex but we are taking action by addressing the root social causes, promoting healthier lifestyles and improving the consistency of NHS services etc.

'Latest figures show the north west is the fastest growing region, while the north east has seen the biggest growth in employment over the past year. But there is clearly more to do, and we will continue to drive economic growth across the country as we create an economy that works for everyone.'

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