Almost 1,400 bogus or hoax calls to National Ambulance Service last year

The National Ambulance Service (NAS) received almost 1,400 bogus or hoax calls last year with every single call having to be thoroughly vetted to see first if it’s an emergency.

Figures from the NAS reveal how the number of prank or bogus calls began to rise sharply in the second half of last year from just 76 in the month of January to 151 by year end in December.

There were also higher rates of bogus or hoax calls in months normally associated with school holidays including June (152) and July (153), although the August figure was 125.

The NAS said calls were categorised as a hoax where the caller terminated the conversation before providing sufficient detail to warrant sending an ambulance.

They also arose where the criteria for dispatching an ambulance were not met or in cases where a crew did respond but nothing was found.

The NAS said emergency call takers had expertise in sifting out bogus calls through set questions for verifying whether an ambulance was needed.

They said: “Other indications are the caller laughing (adult or child). The trained emergency call taker would escalate a suspected hoax call to the control supervisor who would assess, analyse and make a decision on the authenticity of the call.”

The NAS said they had received more than 363,000 calls last year, of which only a small fraction were hoax calls.

Detailed data on the number of emergency calls showed spikes in January, July, August, and December when at least 32,000 calls were made each month, or at least 1,000 per day.