Overall, premature death in the UK is on the decline, but that doesn’t necessarily mean good news. Although life expectancy rates have increased steadily, numbers are now levelling off as the UK faces a statistical stalemate. While premature deaths decline in more affluent areas, mortality rates in poor areas, such as Manchester and Liverpool, are still on the rise.

Causes of Premature Death in the UK

The top five medical causes of premature death in the UK include:

  • Cancer
  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Lung Disease
  • Liver Disease

Several of the medical conditions above that result in premature death can be attributed to addiction, whether it be alcohol, drugs or tobacco. Genetically-inherited disease is also a contributing factor. Although this list doesn’t include accidental death or similar causes, it speaks to the top mortality issues facing the ever-growing human population.

Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive for Public Health England, stated, “We know that too many people are dying way too soon from diseases that are largely avoidable. It is critical that we all direct our effort and resource to prevention and early intervention, and no one is better placed to do this than local authorities, working hand in glove with the local NHS.”


Public Health England provides a list of mortality rankings by location and socioeconomic deprivation. The list clearly shows that the more deprived areas of the UK have higher mortality rates than the less deprived areas. More affluent locations such as Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Dorset, and Rutland have an average of 266 or fewer premature deaths per 100,000 people for the period of 2014-2016. Less affluent locations such as Liverpool, Middlesbrough, Manchester, and Nottingham have an average of 459 or higher premature deaths per 100,000 people for the period of 2014-2016.

The lowest premature mortality ranking of 238 deaths per 100,000 people (2014-2016) occurred in Rutland, while the highest premature mortality ranking of 546 deaths per 100,000 people occurred in Blackpool. These statistics show the mortality rate in the most deprived area in the UK is over twice the rate of the least deprived area.


The implications of this comprehensive data set are far-reaching. The data seems to indicate that poorer people are dying earlier and getting sick faster than those in more affluent areas. In 1948, the NHS was founded on three core values focused on serving the public regardless of ability to pay for services rendered. Given the NHS’ guiding principle of meeting the needs of all citizens in the UK, how is such a drastic difference in premature mortality even possible?

Most researchers agree that people in less deprived areas have better access to healthcare and lower risk levels. Whether these people are less likely to suffer premature deaths because of genetic disposition or exposure to higher risk levels remains unsubstantiated. It could simply be a matter of living

Resources & Further Reading:https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/top-5-causes-of-premature-death/