Northern Ireland news

Nearly 5,000 hoax ambulance calls made in the last year

In Belfast alone, there were more than 1000 hoax calls made to the ambulance service. Photo by Rui Vieira, Press Association

THERE were nearly 5,000 possible hoax calls made to the ambulance service in the last year.

From April 2015 to March 2016, the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) recorded a total of 4,852 potentially bogus phone calls.

This represents a 10 per cent increase in the number of these calls in last three years, amounting to more than 13 every day.

These calls make up an average of 2.4 per cent of all emergency requests made to the NIAS by the public.

It is estimated that the emergency services spend millions of pounds each year dealing with bogus calls, draining the already limited resources of front-line services.

Of the five health trusts in the north, Belfast received by far the most hoax calls, with more than 1000 in the last year alone. The western trust received the least with around half that figure.

The statistics were released in response to an assembly question tabled UUP MLA Jo-Anne Dobson.

Ms Dobson said that the problem was "outrageous".

"I simply cannot comprehend what would motivate anyone to make a hoax call," she said.

"These types of calls really are despicable as, in the worst case scenario, they could lead to patients in need of genuine emergency care coming to harm.

"Before anyone thinks it's entertaining to make a hoax call; I would ask them whether it would still be as amusing if it resulted in their loved one getting a slower response to a genuine emergency as vital resources are redirected."

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