People living in the north of England are 20% more likely to die prematurely than those in the south, research suggests.
Experts analysed data from 1965 to 2008 and found those living in the north are a fifth more likely to die under the age of 75, despite government efforts to bridge the gap.
In an accompanying editorial, experts warned “The north is being decimated at the rate of a major city every decade.”
The number of excess deaths among all age groups has been 14% higher in the north than in the south over the last four decades, the research showed.
Experts found that the wide gap between the north and south has remained despite the fact the overall death rate has fallen dramatically since 1965 - by about 50% for men and about 40% for women, regardless of where they live.
The authors, from the University of Manchester school of community based medicine and Manchester City Council’s joint health unit, concluded: “These findings point towards a severe, long-term and recently worsening structural health problem in the geography of England, which may not have received the attention it requires from government policy and which has been resistant to specific policies to reduce inequalities in health or regenerate local communities.”
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: “Everyone should have the same opportunity to lead a healthy life, no matter where they live or who they are.
“The government has made it clear that reducing health inequalities is a priority as part of its commitment to fairness and social justice.
“That is why we are driving ahead with the Inclusion Health programme, which will focus on improving access and outcomes for vulnerable groups … We are also providing a ringfenced public health budget, weighted towards the most deprived areas, to ensure resources are spent on preventative work, with incentives to improve the health of the poorest, the fastest.”
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