Huge differences in county's death rates
PEOPLE living in some deprived areas of Suffolk are five times more likely to die prematurely than their wealthy neighbours, it has been revealed.NHS bosses have admitted that health inequalities are increasing - and their work over the last decade appears to be making no difference.
PEOPLE living in some deprived areas of Suffolk are five times more likely to die prematurely than their wealthy neighbours, it has been revealed.
NHS bosses have admitted that health inequalities are increasing - and their work over the last decade appears to be making no difference.
The startling link between health and wealth is becoming stronger with analysis showing premature death rates differ significantly even between individual roads.
In one area of Ipswich, it appears if you live on one side of the railway tracks you have a far higher chance of dying before your 75th birthday compared to the other side.
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Dr Brian Keeble, director of public health at Ipswich Primary Care Trust (PCT), said some disadvantaged communities are now seeing their premature death rates worsen.
And the association between living conditions and performance among schoolchildren is also “startling and striking”, with year six pupils from deprived homes a year behind their wealthier schoolmates at Key Stage 2.
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In presenting the his report to the Suffolk East PCTs' final board meeting on Wednesday , Dr Keeble said there were communities “cheek by jowl” with hugely different death rates.
The analysis has looked at trends in individual wards between 1998 and 2004.
It shows that Ipswich is a place of “considerable extremes”. The central Ipswich community has a standardised mortality rate (SMR) for under 75s of 225 - two-and-a-quarter times the average for the county.
The SMR is worked out by taking the average death rate in the county, setting it at 100, and then working out how other areas compare.
But in the Valley Road and Colchester Road area the rate is less than half the Suffolk average - a five times difference between the two communities.
Similarly, in the Felixstowe Road and Lindbergh Road area, the premature death rate is two-thirds higher than the county average at 167, while “literally on the other side of the tracks” is an area with an SMR of 55, Dr Keeble said.
The areas with the highest death rates are still the same as those Dr Keeble identified when he first started investigating health inequalities 11 years ago.
“In a civilised society we should be saying this really isn't good enough and we need to do something about this,” he said.
Dr Keeble said the association between premature mortality and deprivation seems to have become stronger over the last 25 years and the concern is that disadvantaged communities are not improving as quickly, widening the health gap between the worst off and the best.
But, across the county as a whole, the death rate under the age of 75 showed a 42% decline between 1980 and 2004, the report said.
A series of actions needed to combat the health inequalities have now been identified, including the strong case for further funding of the Town and Bridge Project - a multi-agency initiative aimed at improving the health of those in Ipswich.
The relationship between educational achievement and deprivation - defined according to income support levels - is also analysed in the annual report.
It showed the Key Stage 2 scores of the 10 most deprived wards was an average of 25.4 compared to 28.5 in the 13 least deprived.
Dr Keeble said although the difference may not look much in numeric terms, it had “considerable significance” as a child's key stage score should increase by three points for each year at school.
The report also shows only 55.4% of 17-year-olds in deprived areas stayed on for A-levels compared to 80.9% in the least deprived.
Suffolk local authority wards with significantly raised death rates for under-75s
Great Cornard North
St Mary's, Newmarket
Priory Heath, Ipswich
Suffolk wards with significantly low death rates for under-75s
Mid Samford, Capel St Mary
Rushmere St Andrew