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Saturday, 19 February, 2000, 10:08 GMT
Manchester health care 'worst in UK'

Manchester Health Authority Manchester Health Authority is bottom of list

The people of Manchester are getting the worst health care in the country, according to a league table of hospital performance.

They are dying several years younger than the national average and waiting months more to be treated, says the report.

Click here to see the full ranking of health authorities

Other deprived areas such as Liverpool and Wolverhampton are also languishing at the bottom of the list.

The league table is misleading. We are dealing with people who live in some of the most deprived areas in the UK
Manchester Health Authority
The more affluent area of Oxfordshire is named as the best provider, followed by areas of Devon, Herefordshire, Somerset and Dorset.

John Appleby, from think tank the King's Fund which drew up the league table, said: "The survey shows us that health authorities in deprived areas face an uphill struggle to tackle the health gap between rich and poor."

Death rates from cancer and heart disease were taken into account, along with hospital waiting lists, hip operations and deaths from "avoidable" diseases such as TB and asthma.

Worst five health authorities
East London and the City
St Helens and Knowsley
A survey of public opinion was also conducted, asking people to rate health service priorities. Most of those questioned put spending on heart disease and cancer at the top of the list, above funding for tackling waiting lists and hip operations.

The league table rankings were then drawn up based on how the results matched the actual performance of health authorities.

The study found that men in Manchester can expect to make it to 70 years of age - four years below the national average. Women are dying three years below the national average.

Hospital scene Some health authorities are performing better others
In Oxfordshire, death rates for cancer and heart disease are among the lowest in the country, and life expectancy is higher.

But the study has been criticised by Manchester Health Authority.

"I think this league table is misleading because it suggests that Manchester is failing in its role, when in fact we are dealing with people who live in some of the most deprived areas of the UK," said a spokesman.

"The health authority has done a lot of good work and has improved health under very difficult conditions.

"There are problems, but great strides are being made."

Best five health authorities
North and East Devon
The King's Fund says the study will boost calls for poorer areas to receive extra cash to "help them make significant changes in their communities".

Public Health Minister Yvette Cooper denied that the survey accurately portrayed the quality of service being delivered by health authorities, and insisted the government was already putting extra money into tackling health inequalities linked to poverty.

The findings will be presented in a Channel 4 programme, The Sick List: The NHS From Best To Worst, on Sunday.

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See also:
14 Feb 00 |  Health
UK 'trails Europe on heart disease'
18 Jan 00 |  Health
The health gap - Britain and Europe
18 Jan 00 |  Health
Health gap 'even bigger than thought'
14 Jan 00 |  Health
NHS funding row grows
11 Jan 99 |  NHS in crisis
Health initiatives change the face of the NHS

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