YORK faces a “ticking timebomb” if cuts in support to help people who drink too much alcohol go ahead, according to a councillor.

Government cuts to council public health budgets mean the funding for services which offer help to people with alcohol and drug problems will be cut by more than half a million pounds over five years.

A council report warned cuts to the substance misuse budget could have a “serious impact on the city” - with the number of people going to hospital because of alcohol problems in York already above the national average and rising.

And doctors are worried by the proposals, with the clinical chair of Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) calling the plans “short term thinking”.

Cllr Michael Pavlovic, who worked on a review of the impact of reducing the budget, said: “The report makes it clear – we are sitting on a ticking timebomb. It’s a cliché but, for health and for society, that’s what we’re talking about.

“If we don’t deal with it seriously, it’s not just this generation who will suffer but the next.

“The cuts will have an impact on the city, on crime and on families, if this situation is allowed to continue and deepen.”

The report said alcohol is also having an impact on the police service, with more than 4,500 crimes recorded last year related to drinking.

Dr Nigel Wells, GP and clinical chair at the CCG, said: “Making cuts seems to be very short term thinking. We should see prevention put at the top of the agenda. We know if we reach people early, it’s better for the health of the people of York.

“If it gets squeezed it just bulges somewhere else – you see surges in demand elsewhere in the health economy and increased A&E attendances.

“My colleagues will be upset and worried about this. We know that prevention is key and if cut, you are going to have problems later down the line - most importantly it has an impact on the health of residents and patients and it ripples out to affect their families, friends and colleagues too.”

Sharon Stoltz, director of public health at the council, speaking at a health meeting, said: “The trend in York [for alcohol-related hospital admissions] is most definitely increasing. There’s a very clear increasing trend. We are considerably above the England average. This is a concern for me as director of public health.”

She added that the local authority needs to work with other health partners in the city to tackle the issue.

Council bosses will be asked to look again at funding for the service at an executive meeting on Monday. But a report prepared for councillors says public health budgets have been cut since 2014 and it warns that putting any extra money into alcohol and drug support services could hit sexual health and children’s health budgets.