NURSING leaders and MPs today raised concerns about a new report which reveals the toll of premature deaths on Wearside.
Figures from Public Health England rank Sunderland 132nd out of 150 for premature deaths in the country.
As reported in the Echo, major killers like heart disease, cancer and strokes remain a significant problem, despite a number of health initiatives designed to tackle them.
Out of 150 local authorities, Sunderland ranks 136th for early deaths from cancer, 133rd for lung cancer, 117th for liver disease, and 116th for heart attacks and strokes.
The city is the worst placed in a poor showing for the North East, with Newcastle ranked 103rd, South Tyneside 129th, Gateshead 123rd, County Durham 105th and North Tyneside 97th. The figures mean the Sunderland is among the “worst” in England with 3,180 premature deaths between 2009 and 2011.
Glenn Turp, regional director for the Royal College of Nursing Northern Region, said: “It simply can not be acceptable that in the 21st century, we have a situation where the rate of premature deaths in the North East is around 66 per cent higher, compared to the premature death rate in Richmond Upon Thames.”
Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson said: “Sunderland’s ranking is startling, but it’s actually an inevitable consequence of health inequalities in our area compared to others, such as higher rates of obesity, problem drinking and smoking.
“That’s why it’s so outrageous that funding which is supposed to tackle early deaths has now been weighted by this government towards old age – meaning that Sunderland loses out while leafy shires like Surrey will see a big increase in funding.”
MP and former NHS worker Grahame Morris, whose Easington constituency in East Durham is reportedly one of the most deprived areas in the North East, said: “The North South divide in health inequalities has never been more pronounced. It is appalling that in 2013 where you live can determine how long you live to such an extent.”
A statement from the Department of Health said the data would help “provide local areas with information to help them understand their own position” and target specific health challenges.