Shock figures show high rate of avoidable deaths in Wigan

A health professional with a stethoscope
A health professional with a stethoscope

Wiganers are dying of avoidable deaths at a much higher rate than the country’s average, alarming figures reveal.


Office for National Statistics data shows that in the period of 2015 to 2017 (the most recently covered period) there were 271.5 per 100,000 people dying of avoidable deaths under the local authority – higher than the national average of 217.3 and the North West average of 263.2.

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Similarly, the figures for NHS Wigan Borough CCG reveal that the rate of borough avoidable deaths is 267.3 per 100,000 compared to the CCG national average of 214.4.

Examples of conditions which figure in the calculations include some forms of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, some alcohol and drug-related diseases and various respiratory diseases.

The data shows that there has been a slight reduction in these avoidable deaths since the previous recorded figures from 2014 to 2016, but Wigan remains a lot higher than the national average, along with the majority of the regions in Greater Manchester.

Dr Tim Dalton, chair of NHS Wigan Borough CCG, said: “It is really positive to see the improvement in reducing avoidable deaths in Wigan Borough since 2014.

“This is a testament to the joint work of local GPs, the public health team and all local NHS providers.

“Avoidable deaths are deaths from things like diabetes, COPD and high blood pressure. Good health services can make a difference in reducing these avoidable deaths, but people looking after their own health makes much more difference.

“In Wigan borough, nearly a third of people live in deprived areas, and we have traditionally had higher levels of smoking and drinking, mixed with lower levels of education attainment.

“All these things make a big difference to how healthy people are and how likely they are to die from an avoidable condition.

“The good news is that these things are changing with the NHS, council and wider public services working better together as part of the Healthier Wigan Partnership to support people to live long, healthy lives.

“This includes taking a broader view of what living a healthy life means, and thinking of employment, skills, housing and transport as well as medicines and operations.”

Wigan Council’s public health department also plays a large role in trying to reduce the number of avoidable deaths.

Campaigns such as the Heart of Wigan, as well as drives to reduce smoking prevalence, NHS health checks, immunisations and vaccinations all contribute, as do healthy weight and physical activity initiatives.

Prof Kate Ardern, director of public health at the local authority, said: “Wigan borough’s avoidable death rates are the fourth best in Greater Manchester and although there is room for improvement, we are not unique and we are seeing reductions.

“With regards to deaths that could potentially be avoided by public health interventions, known as ‘preventable deaths’, we are seeing a larger decrease since 2010-12 than both regionally and nationally.”