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Mortality rate difference demand skewing of resources

29 October, 2008 - by Maeve McLaughlin

Sinn Féin Equality Spokesperson, Foyle MLA Martina Anderson has said that the publication of the different mortality rates by OFMDFM today shows that particular groups in society are more likely to die younger.

The Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister published a report that examines differences in the mortality rates of Section 75 groups includes evidence that:

  • Males on average have higher mortality rates and die earlier than females translating into a life expectancy difference of around 4.4 years.
  • There appears to be a stronger relationship between mortality rates and social disadvantage for men compared to women.
  • Those with a Catholic community background, both male and female, have higher mortality rates. The lowest mortality rates are found amongst those with an 'other' community background, or none.

Higher mortality rates were found amongst:

  • those living in public sector housing;
  • those with no or low-level qualifications;
  • the economically inactive and unemployed;
  • and those living in the 20% most deprived areas.

Commenting of these latest findings Ms Anderson said:

"These findings echo those from the Department of Health exactly year ago when it published its second bulletin on the Health and Social Care Inequalities and show that there are massive difference in mortality rates.

"The huge health inequalities that exist across our society mean that people who are worse off die earlier and previous evidence also shows that they are 71% more likely to have lung cancer and twice as likely to self-harm.

"People who live with disadvantage and those from the Catholic community all have higher mortality rates. This correlation, between deprivation, housing, education and employment and ill health and premature death cannot be ignored. If we look at these they highlight the reality about the deep inequalities in our society.

"I believe that these huge differences mean that we need to target resources, in particular spending on health, on tackling economic inactivity rates, housing and education more effectively towards areas of greatest need. It means we need to ensure that people get equal access to the healthcare they need and job creation in areas where there is greatest deprivation.

"These appalling statistics reveal not only the waste of human potential and damage to lives but also the waste to our economy and resources

"They confirm that requirements to tackle inequalities on the basis of objective need are not only required under law but should be the foundation for the future in building a healthy society and healthy economy.

"Every penny, pound and dollar spent in this society should be utilised to redress statistics such as these." ENDS

Note to Editors

The second Department of Health second update bulletin on the Health and Social Care Inequalities Monitoring System was published on October 29th 2007. It highlighted the differences in morbidity, mortality, utilisation and access to health and social services.

Its findings included:

  • Lung cancer incidence rates for all persons are 71% higher in deprived areas.
  • The teenage birth rate in deprived areas is 80% higher.
  • The admission rate to hospital for self-harm in deprived areas is twice that in the North generally.
  • For all health and social care facilities (except of hospitals providing learning disability inpatient services) the average access time from rural areas was more than 40% worse than generally.
  • The proportion of Catholics in the areas with the worst health outcomes was at least five percentage points higher than the overall proportion for all indicators (with the exception of waiting times and the standardised death rate due to respiratory diseases).
  • For all facilities under consideration, (with the exception of GPs, pharmacies and hospitals providing learning disability outpatient services) Catholics were overrepresented in the areas with worst access times.
  • Despite improving health outcomes across all areas there is no evidence of a narrowing of the inequality gap for life expectancy, circulatory and respiratory standardised death rates, and the proportion of people suffering from a mood or anxiety disorder.

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