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Poverty and deprivation have a significant impact on health outcomes in England and Wales

Avoidable, amenable and preventable mortality is strongly related to area deprivation in England and in Wales, a report by the Office for National Statistics finds.

In England in 2015 there were 16,686 deaths from avoidable causes in the most deprived areas whereas there were less than half that number (7,247 deaths) in the least deprived areas.

In the most deprived areas of Wales there were 1,054 deaths from avoidable causes in 2015, compared with 509 deaths in the least deprived areas.

The report shows that absolute and relative inequalities in avoidable mortality between those living in the most and least deprived areas were sizeable and highly significant, but the excess was larger for males than females in all cases.

The largest relative inequality in avoidable mortality was for deaths from respiratory diseases.

Dr Annie Campbell, Health Analysis and Life Events lead at the Office for National Statistics, said: “The link between avoidable mortality and deprivation is strongest for avoidable respiratory diseases. The most deprived populations in England and Wales are up to 7.7 times more likely to die from an avoidable respiratory disease than the least deprived.

“Smoking is the most likely contributory factor to these differences.”

Death from respiratory disease is 4.8 times (males) and 7.7 times (females) more likely in the most deprived populations compared with the least deprived.

The largest absolute difference in avoidable mortality between the most and least deprived deciles was from cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Campbell added: “It is in the cases of cardiovascular disease and cancer where the inequalities in mortality seen between more and less deprived areas can be most reduced overall. Narrowing the gaps in mortality for these diseases will have benefits for the largest number of people.”

BMA board of science chair, Professor Dame Parveen Kumar, commented: “This report shows that poverty and deprivation continue to have a significant impact on health outcomes, raising questions about timely access to high-quality healthcare for those from deprived backgrounds.

“Access to good healthcare, and education around preventable illnesses should not be determined by socioeconomic background, yet those living in the most deprived areas are still more likely to die from an avoidable disease with smoking related illnesses a notable killer.

“We need to address this social injustice, which leaves the poorest in society at greater risk of an early, avoidable death. Politicians and policy makers must take urgent action by investing in measures to tackle poverty and increase the provision of public health and preventative health care services such as smoking cessation services for those in deprived areas. This has been made harder however, by significant cuts to public health budgets in recent years.”

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