Malicious calls to the Scottish Ambulance Service have wasted 1874 hours of staff time over the last four years, data has revealed.
The figures, obtained by the Scottish Liberal Democrats under freedom of information laws, reveal there were 7460 malicious calls to the emergency service between 2014-15 and 2018-19.
Call handlers and paramedics wasted 112,469 minutes on such calls during that time – equivalent to 78 whole days.
Scottish Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said those behind the calls “should be ashamed of themselves”, adding they are putting lives at risk.
Warning that ambulance service staff are “under huge strain”, he said: “The people in our ambulance service are at the absolute forefront of saving lives.
“The service deals with well over half a million calls every year but these figures show that some malicious individuals are conspiring to make their jobs harder than they need to be.
“Anyone who maliciously calls for an ambulance should be ashamed of themselves. Every call handler tied up dealing with a malicious call is one who is unavailable to help save a life elsewhere.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We strongly condemn hoax calls to our emergency services.
“These are not victimless pranks and they can potentially distract vital resources and attention away from those who are in life-threatening situations.
“The Scottish Ambulance Service has been clear that inappropriate, malicious or nuisance callers will be reported to the police who will investigate and act accordingly.
“This is the right and proportionate procedure as the ambulance service also point out that in many cases the call is the result of a mental health issue, rather than malice, and the patient may still need help.
“In these cases the relevant agencies are advised so that appropriate care can be provided.”
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country