People living in the north of England are 20% more likely to die prematurely than those in the south, a study has revealed.
Data from 1965 to 2008 were analysed by experts who discovered that those living in the north are a fifth more likely to die before reaching 75, despite government efforts to bridge the gap.
This figure has "changed little between 1965 and 2008," according to researchers writing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
In an accompanying editorial, experts warned "The north is being decimated at the rate of a major city every decade."
They also revealed that the number of excess deaths among all age groups has been 14% higher in the north than in the south over the last four decades, while the north-south divide was greater from men (15%) than for women (13%).
Meanwhile, experts analysed trends for English government office regions, comparing the north with the south.
They looked at the North East, North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, East Midlands and West Midlands compared with the east of England, London, the South East and South West.
They found that the wide gap between the north and south has remained despite the fact the overall death rate has fallen dramatically since 1965 – by about 50% for men and about 40% for women, regardless of where they live.
The authors, from the University of Manchester school of community-based medicine and Manchester City Council's joint health unit, concluded: "These findings point towards a severe, long-term and recently worsening structural health problem in the geography of England, which may not have received the attention it requires from government policy and which has been resistant to specific policies to reduce inequalities in health or regenerate local communities."
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