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Byron Shire
March 9, 2021

Deaths from treatable conditions nearly three times higher in some local areas

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Australians are much more likely to die unnecessarily from treatable conditions depending on where they live – and there are big differences even within similar urban and rural areas, a new report shows.

More than 33,000 Australians die on average each year from avoidable causes, comprising two-thirds of all deaths before the age of 75. Almost 40 per cent (12,858) of these avoidable deaths could have been stopped by better medical treatment.

But the new report shows that the rate of these so-called ‘treatable deaths’ ranges from 41 deaths per 100,000 people in Inner East Melbourne to 110 per 100,000 in Central and North West Queensland.

The new report, Healthy Communities: Avoidable deaths and life expectancies in 2009–2011, also shows there are differences between areas in rates of ‘treatable deaths’ that cannot be explained by people in those areas being older, poorer or more rural.

‘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,’ Performance Authority CEO Dr Diane Watson said.

Causes of ‘treatable deaths’ include bowel cancer, skin cancer, heart disease and selected bacterial infections. The other component of avoidable deaths, called ‘preventable deaths’, includes lung cancer, suicide and alcohol-related disease.

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 North Shore and Beaches compared to Central and North West Queensland. Females can live up to 7.7 years longer in Northern Sydney compared to Central and North West Queensland.

Avoidable death rates and life expectancies estimates are among some of the health system indicators the Council of Australian Governments has asked the Performance Authority to report on. In addition to this, information on the use of specialists, nurses and allied health professionals by Medicare Local catchment has also been published on the MyHealthyCommunities website.

Unique profile graphics for each of the 61 Medicare Local catchments are also included in the report. The graphics show how each Medicare Local catchment fares on 18 measures of health service use, prevention, experiences and outcomes, allowing rapid understanding of each area’s best opportunities for improvements.

For more information or to download the report go to www.myhealthycommunities.gov.au.

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