‘Widening’ north-south divide in early deaths linked to deprivation, study shows

The study examined deaths from drug abuse, health conditins and all other causes. Picture: PA
The study examined deaths from drug abuse, health conditins and all other causes. Picture: PA
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Deprivation has been blamed for a sharp rise in deaths among young men in the North of England, in a new report published in the Lancet which also found a “widening” north-south divide in early mortality.

Deaths from accidents, alcohol and drug poisoning in men aged between 22 and 44 have increased nationwide, but more quickly in the North, where deprivation tends to be greater and more widespread, the study found.

The research, by teams at the Universities of York, Manchester and Keele, compared mortality data between England’s five northernmost regions versus its five southernmost regions, between 1981 and 2016.

Professor Evan Kontopantelis, lead author, said the data revealed a “profoundly concerning” gap in mortality between the North and the South, especially in men.

Although there was little difference between early deaths in regionally in the 1990s, by 2016 a gap had opened up. Between 2014 and 2016, 3,530 more men and 1,881 more women, aged between 25 and 44, died in the North than in the South, when population and age are taken into account.

Accounting for age and sex, northerners aged 25 to 44 were 47 per cent more likely to die from cardiovascular reasons, 109 per cent more likely to die from alcohol misuse and 60 per cent more likely from drug misuse, compared to southerners.

Professor of Health Policy at the University of York, Tim Doran, said: “The main reason for the existence of this North-South divide is London. Most northern regions have higher mortality rates than most southern regions for younger adults, but mortality rates in all regions, both North and South, are at least 13 per cent higher than in the capital. It is no coincidence that the country’s political, economic and cultural resources are concentrated in London, and the divisions in health we describe are unlikely to be bridged without major structural change to counter England’s centralist tradition.“