South East Wales

Woman jailed for calling ambulance more than 400 times

The caller also made 59 visits to the A&E department of University Hospital Wales Image copyright Mick Lobb/ Geograph
Image caption The caller also made 59 visits to the A&E department at University Hospital of Wales

A woman who called the ambulance service more than 400 times in the last two years has been jailed.

Mariette McHarg, of Barry, also made 59 visits to an emergency department at University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, attended a poisons unit at Llandough hospital 55 times and called the GP out of hours service 127 times.

The cost of care was estimated at more than £170,000.

She was sentenced to 24 weeks in prison.

McHarg appeared on Tuesday at Cardiff Magistrates' Court on a number of charges, including the assault of a police officer and the assault of two nurses.

'Final deterrent'

Robin Petterson, the Welsh Ambulance Service's clinical support officer for Cardiff and Vale, said it was essential the service was protected for life-threatening situations.

"We recognise that some frequent callers have complex needs," he said.

"In this particular instance we have dedicated a large amount of time working with multiple partner agencies to provide increased support and advice for her to access appropriate services.

"Unfortunately, despite repeated attempts to identify her unmet needs, there was an escalation in her behaviour which led to us having to pursue court action as a final deterrent."

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