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Regional differences.

YOU ARE what you eat ... and where you live. That appears to be the message of a new report which reveals local variation in avoidable death rates in England.

The figures are part of 'Longer Lives,' a new Public Health England website which is designed to allow people to review the level of early deaths in their locality from four major diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.

Using a 'traffic-light' rating system, it ranks areas on how well they are tackling avoidable deaths, with those performing above average rated green, and those performing the worst, where more needs to be done, rated red. The data also allows people to compare an area's mortality performance against those with similar incomes, populations and levels of health.

The question of regional differences was also highlighted in optics this week, with the announcement of the latest data from Wales. Statistics in the 'Eye Care Service in Wales' report, produced by the Welsh Government and signed-off by the UK Statistics Authority, have revealed telling numbers, while also highlighting the excellent work of Optometry Wales (page 5).

Most eye-catching are the statistics on diabetic retinopathy--of the 111,110 patients screened by the Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Service in Wales over a 12-month period, 3% were labelled as having 'potential sight-threatening retinopathy' and were referred to the hospital eye services.

Optometry Wales' continuing work with the Welsh Government to establish a new banding structure of the Wales Eye Care Service (WECS), which would allow patients to be referred on to their WECS accredited optometrist for a full sight test, shows fresh thinking.

Through Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) partners on health and wellbeing boards, Wales is showing its peers in the UK that optometrists have a pivotal role to play in the health care system to improve the health of local communities.

John White, OT managing editor

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Title Annotation:COMMENT; variation in avoidable death rates in England
Author:White, John
Publication:Optometry Today
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:4EUUE
Date:Jun 14, 2013
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