HUNDREDS of time-wasting 999 calls are diverting precious ambulance service resources and putting lives at risk, the Gazette can reveal.

South Central Ambulance Service is regularly hit by hoaxers who are “disproportionately resource and time consuming”.

But genuine callers in need are also causing problems by first ringing 999 and then vanishing - for example taking themselves to hospital - before paramedics arrive.

A freedom of information request by the Gazette revealed 2,506 hoax and so-called ‘no intervention’ calls in the two years in 2019/20 and 2020/21.

The national average cost of responding to a 999 call is £69, meaning nearly £60,000 was wasted.

A SCAS statement said: hoax calls were “very small but disproportionately resource and time consuming”.

It added: “However, there are also times when we arrive on scene to care for a patient, only to find that they have disappeared or have managed to get themselves to hospital and therefore no longer need our assistance.

“In these situations we would encourage people to let us know if their situation changes, so that we can reallocate the crew and vehicle, thereby ensuring that our highly skilled teams are available when patients really do need their help. This is especially important at the current time when our services are incredibly busy.”

The total number of hoax and no-intervention calls dropped in the second year of figures obtained by the Echo.

Hampshire police said officers work with paramedics whenever they received nuisance or abusive calls.

A Hampshire Constabulary spokesperson said: “We work closely with SCAS colleagues regarding nuisance or abusive callers they receive from Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, and continue to find ways to collaborate further.”

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