Letters Premature deaths across England

Austerity measures hit the sickest hardest

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f4208 (Published 02 July 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f4208
  1. David Taylor-Robinson, Medical Research Council population health scientist1,
  2. Rachael Gosling, consultant in public health2,
  3. Dominic Harrison, director of public health3,
  4. Mohammed Khan, deputy leader and executive member for health and adult social care 3,
  5. Ben Barr, senior clinical lecturer in applied public health1
  1. 1Department of Public Health and Policy, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 3GB, UK
  2. 2Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust, Liverpool, UK
  3. 3Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Blackburn, UK
  1. dctr{at}liv.ac.uk

Torjesen highlights the stark inequality in life expectancy shown on the Longer Lives website (http://longerlives.phe.org.uk/).1 The north of England is coloured red and labelled with the “worst” premature mortality, whereas the green fields of the south have the “best” premature mortality.

The north-south divide in life expectancy is nothing new.2 3 What is new is that local authorities are now responsible for public health. Jeremy Hunt wants the data to be used to identify “local” public health challenges,1 but our analysis shows the bigger picture.

In the figure, we use publicly accessible data to illustrate the local authority budget cut per head (2010-11 to 2014-15) in relation to premature mortality.4 5 The figure shows that the largest spending cuts have occurred in the areas with the highest premature mortality, and that the cuts are systematically larger in the north of England.


Local authority budget cut 2010-11 to 2014-15 versus premature mortality

How are local authorities supposed to reduce inequalities in the face of austerity measures that are likely to do the opposite?


Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f4208


  • Competing interests: None declared.