York & North Yorkshire

York 'facing drink and drug funding timebomb'

Bottles of beer at bar Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Support services for alcohol and drug users are due to be cut by £500,000

The city of York faces a "ticking timebomb" if cuts in support to help problem drinkers go ahead, a councillor claims.

Cuts to council public health budgets mean the funding for services helping drink and drug users will be slashed by more than £500,000 over five years.

A council report warned cuts to the substance misuse budget could have a "serious impact on the city".

Councillor Michael Pavlovic said the problem had to be taken seriously.

Doctors are also concerned by the proposals, with the clinical chair of Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) calling the plans "short term thinking", the Local Democracy Reporting Service says.

Mr 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.

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

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

Dr Nigel Wells, a 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."

Sharon Stoltz, director of public health at the council, said: "The trend in York [for alcohol-related hospital admissions] is most definitely increasing.

"We are considerably above the England average. This is a concern for me as director of public health."

Council bosses will be asked to look again at funding for the service at an executive meeting on Monday.

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