'Malicious' hoax calls waste 1,700 hours of ambulance staff time

The Scottish Ambulance Service said lives were being 'put at risk' by hoax callers.

‘Malicious’ hoax calls to Scottish ambulance crews waste over 1,700 hours of staff time, figures show iStock

‘Malicious’ hoax callers who wasted hundreds of hours of ambulance staff time over the past eight years have been slammed by the Scottish Liberal Democrats. 

Between January 2014 and the end of September 2022, 1,710 hours of resource time was spent dealing with hoax callers.

The figures were obtained by the party from the Scottish Ambulance Service under a Freedom of Information request.

The information showed that during the year to September 30, just over 133 hours were spent on malicious calls.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said the ambulance service needed more resources amid winter pressures on the NHS.

He said: “Every call handler tied up dealing with a malicious call is one who is unavailable to help save a life elsewhere.

“The service deals with hundreds of thousands calls every year but these figures show that a small number of malicious individuals are conspiring to make their jobs harder than they need to be. It has wasted 1,710 hours of their time.

“I fear this winter will be the hardest winter the NHS and its staff have ever known.

“The Scottish Government needs to educate the public about the consequences of wasting call handlers’ time.

“They must also give the ambulance service an immediate injection of resources and capacity to tackle the long winter ahead.”

The Scottish Government said inappropriate, malicious or nuisance callers will be reported to the police, while an additional £45m has been allocated to the ambulance service over the next year.

A spokesman said: “We strongly condemn hoax or malicious calls to our emergency services.

“These are not victimless pranks and they can potentially distract and divert vital resources and attention away from those who are in life-threatening situations.

“Our continued increased investment has seen a record number of additional staff join the Scottish Ambulance Service in 2021/22, with further recruitment also under way.”

A Scottish Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “Anyone who calls 999 without a genuine need is potentially putting lives at risk by tying up valuable resources that could be needed to respond to a life-threatening call.

“Therefore, malicious and hoax callers will be reported to the police.”

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