Town still has high death rate

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WIGAN still has one of the highest death rates in England despite continued improvements, a new report has revealed.

The Performance Dashboard for the second quarter of 2011 shows that Wigan remains in the bottom quarter of local authorities for inequality in life expectancy.

Men living in the richest parts of the borough are likely to live 11.1 years longer than men in the most deprived areas, with a gap of 8.1 years for women.

Inequality in life expectancy has also gone down compared to levels at the same quarter last year, but overall mortality figures have improved for both men and women since the second quarter of 2010.

The report, submitted to the council’s Adult Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee, also shows Wigan is in the bottom quarter of local authorities in England for deaths from circulatory diseases for people aged under 75, and in the bottom 50 per cent for mortality from cancers, although again both these figures are better than last year.

Altogether, 57 per cent of performance indicators were doing better than at the same point last year and 36 per cent had got worse, with four per cent unchanged.

Councillors praised the good work being done to improve figures, but said more had to be done to tackle very high rates of lung cancer and levels of smoking.

Coun Keith Cunliffe said: “While all age/all cause mortality has decreased, the rates in Wigan are high when compared to the national average. Despite pleasing reductions in cardiovascular disease mortality, deaths from cancer and respiratory disease remain high, which therefore impact on performance against this indicator.

“In addition, deaths from gastrointestinal disorders, particularly those associated with alcohol, are increasing.

“Community engagement activity and the roll out of basic public health awareness training is under way, and we will also be specifically targeting poor parts of the borough. It is hoped that this action will result in a gradual reduction in risk factors for many diseases with high mortality.”

However, Coun Cunliffe denied that the borough was suffering from a health postcode lottery. He said: “In terms of access to treatment Wigan is actually in a very good position. The high rates of cancer mortality seen in the report are down to our challenge around smoking, as lung cancer is the highest cause of premature death.”