A DRASTIC divide in mortality rates between North-East communities has been revealed with one of the region’s towns recording the second highest rate of deaths in England.

The North-East has the highest mortality rate in the country, with 1,098.9 deaths per 100,000 people according to figures taken from County Durham, Darlington, Teesside, Tyne and Wear and Northumberland.

However, infant, neonatal and perinatal deaths in the region all fell below the national average for 2016, as part of the data published by the Office for National Statistics.

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The figures showed that Middlesbrough had the second highest mortality rate of all English council areas, with 1,285 deaths per every 100,000 people, second only to Blackpool, with 1,287 deaths.

The complied data also highlighted a stark contrast between the neighbouring council areas of Middlesbrough and the Hambleton District, which recorded among the lowest age-standardised mortality rates.

Hambleton – similar to affluent areas of east Cambridgeshire and the Haringey borough of London – recorded 829 deaths per 100,000.

The district had the lowest number of deaths compared to North Yorkshire, Richmondshire, Ryedale and York, which all had an average of less than one per cent of the population dying in every 100,000 people.

An Office for National Statistics spokesman said: “The substantial variation in mortality rates between different local areas reflects underlying differences in factors such as income deprivation, socio-economic position and health behaviour.”

Across the North-East, more men died than women per year, with deaths of 686 females registered in Hambleton, compared to 1,123 in Middlesbrough.

The Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) group for Teesside, including Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton and Hartlepool, commented that life expectancy in Middlesbrough is improving.

A JSNA spokesman said: “[The] latest reports show that the gaps in life expectancy between the deprived and affluent areas within Middlesbrough, and between Middlesbrough and England, are widening.

“The major causes of illness and premature deaths, before the age of 75, in Middlesbrough, are circulatory diseases, cancer, respiratory disease and digestive diseases, including liver disease.”

Darlington recorded the lowest average number of deaths in comparison to County Durham and Teesside, with around 1,002 deaths registered last year in its population of around 105,000.

North Yorkshire also fell below the average rate of infant, neonatal and perinatal deaths, compared to data from across Yorkshire and the Humber.