There has been mixed success in meeting targets to reduce mortality rates for specific causes, the latest data from the Department of Health shows.

The target for reducing premature deaths from circulatory diseases by 40 per cent has already been met, a year ahead of schedule.

The target for reducing premature cancer deaths by 20 per cent by 2010 is also on track as it dropped 19.3 per cent between 1995-07 and 2006-08. The absolute gap between premature deaths from cancer in the poorest areas and the rest of England has also reduced by 10.5 per cent, compared with a minimum target of 6 per cent.

Reductions in the death rate from suicides are also on track to meet the 2010 target of a 20 per cent reduction compared with the 1995-97 baseline.

But little has changed in the death rate from accidents, which the DH has admitted has stayed “broadly flat” since 1995-97, whereas the target is for a 20 per cent reduction by next year.