England

Hoax 999 calls to South East ambulance soar

The number of hoax or abandonded calls made to ambulance services in the South East have more than doubled, figures have revealed.

South East Coast Ambulance Trust (SECAmb) received 6,572 hoax or abandoned calls between April 2011 and March 2012, up from 2,976 in 2009-10.

The figures which represent less than 1% of all calls were released following a Freedom of Information (FoI) request.

SECAmb said malicious hoax calls were "irresponsible and dangerous".

In a statement, the trust said: "The vast majority of calls are genuine or made in good faith and the trust treats all calls seriously.

"However, on occasions we receive a call and dispatch an ambulance where there is either nobody at the scene or the person at the address denies making the call.

"For example a member of the public might make a call in the genuine belief that someone needs our assistance but the potential patient might leave the scene before an ambulance arrives. Therefore the category used for recording such calls is 'abandoned/hoax' call.

"Malicious hoax calls are irresponsible and dangerous as they can put lives at risk by diverting resources from genuine emergencies."

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