HIGH levels of deprivation in parts of Darlington continue to be a cause for concern as new statistics show a large gap in the death rates between people living in different areas of the town.

Men living in poorer parts of the town have a life expectancy age 12.4 years lower than those living in more wealthy areas, with a gap of 8.1 years for women.

Annual figures from Public Health England show that although life expectancy for men and women across Darlington is improving compared to the national average, the gap between different areas of the town itself is narrowing much more slowly.

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In a presentation to members of Darlington Borough Council’s health scrutiny committee, Miriam Davidson, the council’s assistant director for public health, told members that deprivation continues to be a key indicator in someone’s life expectancy.

She said there were “enduring problems” in some areas where Darlington fares significantly worse than the national average including long term unemployment, women who smoke during pregnancy, the number of girls under 18 who fall pregnant and the number of hospital stays for self-harm and alcohol abuse.

Some 21 per cent of children in the town are said to be living in deprivation.

The borough shows more positive results, above the national average, for low levels of violent crime, strong GCSE results, lower levels of sexually transmitted infections and low numbers of people killed or seriously injured on the roads.

Committee chairwoman Councillor Wendy Newall said: “It’s quite worrying that the same issues come up time and time again.

“Some of these issues are things that we’ve looked at previously in scrutiny such as obesity causing further health issues and harm from alcohol.”

Councillor Jan Taylor added: “The greatest difference between different parts of the town is deprivation. We need to work on that – the levels of deprivation in somewhere like Central Ward is clear to see.”

Ms Davidson said: “We want to look at some of the results and dig a bit deeper and find out more about what’s happening to cause those figures.

“There are massive pockets of deprivation – Darlington is so mixed. Partnership working is strong in Darlington but these are enduring and complex problems.

“The council, the NHS and voluntary groups can’t solve them alone, it’s about what we can do together. What we have done before is working to an extent but we need to try different things too.”