Clarence residents dying at higher rate than average

CLARENCE Valley residents are dying at a higher rate than the NSW average, with figures revealing the region has one of the worst 20 death rates in the state.

This is despite a general downward trend in death rates across NSW.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showed an increase in the number of deaths per head of population in the Clarence Valley local government area within a decade.

In 2003, nine people for every 1000 in the population died in the Clarence Valley.

Fast forward 10 years, which are the most recent figures available, and the death rate grew to 10.2 people dying for every 1000 in the population.

Out of 76 death rate rankings on the ladder, Clarence Valley was among the worst 20, being ranked close to the bottom at 57.

The region's death rate is also much higher than the NSW average.

Overall, the state had a 2% drop in the death rate in the decade.

In 2003, seven people died for every 1000 in the population.

In 2013 this dropped to 6.8 people per 1000 head of population.

Rural Health Alliance staff said there was still a stark difference in death rates between regional areas and the city.

In 2013, 3.6 people died in Sydney for every 1000 in the population.

This was the equal third lowest rate in the state.

Rural Health Alliance chief executive Gordon Gregory said the further towns were from a city, the more disadvantaged the population, especially when it came to health.

"The very reason for the Rural Health Alliance's existence is because there remains a gap," he said.

Mr Gregory said rural health statistics showed people in cities were reaping more benefits from Medicare and the pharmaceutical benefits scheme.

"(Regional residents) are missing out on Medicare-funded services at a rate of $2 billion a year," he said.



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