More than 33,000 Australians die on average each year from avoidable causes, comprising two-thirds of all deaths before the age of 75.
But there are big differences between suburbs in particular cities and between urban and regional or rural areas according to a new Healthy Communities report from the National Health Performance Authority, and almost 40% of avoidable deaths could have been stopped by better medical treatment.
The best place to live in Australia, based on the rate of ‘treatable deaths’ is inner eastern Melbourne where there are 41 treatable deaths per 100,000 people compared with 110 in Central and north-west Queensland.
The report – the first breakdown of avoidable death rates and life expectancy estimates by local area – also finds:
- across metropolitan areas rates of ‘treatable deaths’ were 61% higher in the area with the highest rate compared with the area with the lowest (66 deaths per 100,000 people in northern Adelaide to 41 deaths per 100,000 people in inner east Melbourne
- across regional areas rates of ‘treatable deaths’ were 44% higher in the area with the highest rate compared with the area with the lowest (72 deaths per 100,000 people in New England region to 50 deaths per 100,000 people in Sunshine Coast)
- across rural areas rates of ‘treatable deaths’ were 83% higher in the area with the highest rate compared with the area with the lowest (110 deaths per 100,000 people in central and north-west Queensland to 60 deaths per 100,000 people in the Lower Murray).
“The rate of avoidable deaths can be a strong reflection of how evenly the benefits of timely and effective health services are being shared across the country,” the CEO of the NHPA, Dr Diane Watson, said. For example, the rate of ‘treatable deaths’ on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast is relatively low at 50 per 100,000 while the rate of ‘preventable deaths’ is 86 per 100,000.
The leading cause of ‘treatable deaths’ is heart disease (21.3%), with others including bowel cancer, skin cancer and selected bacterial infections. In many instances the rates of treatable death differ because of longer waits in some hospitals for treatment.
The other component of avoidable deaths, called ‘preventable deaths’, includes lung cancer, suicide and alcohol-related disease. 21.5% of preventable deaths are from lung cancer.
The report also shows for the first time life expectancy at birth by local area.
Findings show males can live up to 9.5 years longer in Sydney’s North Shore and Northern Beaches compared with Central and north-west Queensland. Females can live up to 7.7 years longer in northern Sydney compared with Central and north-west Queensland.
Amongst OECD countries, Australia is equal fifth in terms of ‘treatable’ and/or ‘preventable’ deaths with a national average of 68 deaths per 100,000 people, the same as Sweden and the Netherlands. France, Iceland, Italy and Japan are ahead while the OECD average is 95 per 100,000.
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The full report can be found at the Healthy Communities website.