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South-west England ambulances 'sent to 500 wrong addresses'

South Western Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust Image copyright BBC news grab
Image caption The South Western Ambulance NHS Trust deals with nearly 500,000 calls each year

Ambulances have gone to the wrong address more than 500 times in the last five years in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset, figures obtained by the BBC have shown.

Reasons include the wrong address being given, errors by call handlers and sat-navs giving wrong information.

The South Western Ambulance NHS Trust crews deal with nearly 500,000 calls each year.

The trust says numbers are falling and it is working to improve its systems.

In 2009, figures show wrong addresses were attended 133 times. The latest figures available show numbers dropped to 94 in 2013.

The South Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust, which is based in Exeter, covers 20% of rural England.

It expanded in 2013 to take in the Great Western Ambulance Trust covering Gloucestershire, Bristol and Wiltshire.

Of the 94 incidents in 2013, 33 were due to incorrect details given by the person calling the ambulance, 28 were as a result of errors by the Trust's call handlers.

Image caption The ambulance trust said it was introducing staff refresher training

Five were due to problems with sat-nav systems and 28 were unexplained.

The trust said the 542 cases needed to be seen in the context of dealing with around 2m calls over the five years.

Neil le Chevalier, one of the trust's directors, said: "Taking a 999 call can be very distressing and it can sometimes be very difficult to get the address for our call handlers.

"We're introducing refresher training. We are using some of the occasions where possibly an address has been inaccurate as a learning basis for our staff."

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