Blackpool has the highest rates for liver and lung disease in the country with 39 and 62 premature deaths per 100,000. That is just one of the statistics revealed today with the launch of ‘Longer Lives’ – a new Public Health England (PHE) website. Cardiovascular disease – such as heart attack and stroke – and cancer are also flagged up as two of the town’s biggest killers. Blackpool CCG Chief Officer Dr Amanda Doyle was interviewed by BBC national news regarding the statistics.

The “shocking” local variation in early death rates were revealed by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to drive public awareness and boost council and NHS action to tackle public health problems. The website will allow local people to see easily how their areas perform on early deaths from the major four killers. Using a traffic-light rating system, it ranks areas showing those performing above average in tackling avoidable deaths as green, and exposes the worst that are lagging behind and need to do more as red.

 Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “This shocking variation in early and unnecessary deaths means people’s lives are needlessly cut short, and that cannot continue unchecked. I want areas to use the data released today to identify local public health challenges like smoking, drinking and obesity and to take action to help achieve our ambition for saving 30,000 lives a year by 2020. Being more transparent will also allow professionals and the public to see how their local area is performing over time, allowing them to intervene and make improvements happen.”

Efforts to improve public health, such as smoking cessation, improved diet and early diagnosis, could dramatically reduce the 103,000 avoidable premature deaths in England every year. Experts believe a person’s likelihood of dying prematurely from one of the top four killers varies widely between local authorities due to differences in risk factors, such as obesity, alcohol and smoking, and socioeconomic determinants.

Working with their Clinical Commissioning Group partners through Health and Wellbeing Boards, local councils have a pivotal role in leading the local health and care system to improve the health of their local communities.

Local councils were given responsibility for public health in April 2013 as part of a move to empower local areas to make real change. To help them deliver these improvements the government has given them £5.46bn of ring-fenced funding over the next two years.

You can access the Longer Lives website at http://longerlives.phe.org.uk/