Northamptonshire's ambulance service lost nearly 2,200 hours of time to 999 calls with 'no patient at scene'

The ambulance service covering Northamptonshire lost nearly 2,200 hours of time they could have spent helping others this year by dealing with potential hoax calls.

Friday, 27th December 2019, 6:00 am
The ambulance service for Northamptonshire lost thousands of hours of time to potential hoax calls in the past 12 months.

Whenever a 999 call comes through, the East Midlands Ambulance Service are obliged to take every request for help seriously.

But in the past 12 months, calls handlers normally trained to dispatch ambulances to life-threatening situations had to take more than 1,050 hoax calls.

More frustrating still is how between November 2018 and November 2019, EMAS dispatched emergency crews to more than 7,400 incidents where there was no patient at the scene.

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Ambulance crews also lost thousands of hours to calls where they could not find the patients who needed help.

The time spent fielding hoax calls as well as responding to emergencies where they don't find a patient to treat amounted to 2,193 hours of lost time for ambulance crews in the East Midlands, and nearly 4,000 hours for call handlers.

The ambulance service is never able to be sure what really happened if they arrive at a call where they cannot find a patient. It could have been a deliberate hoax, or a patient left the scene without telling the call handlers, or could have taken themselves to hospital without cancelling the ambulance.

A spokesperson for EMAS said: "Both hoax calls - or calls where the patient was not on scene when our ambulance vehicle arrived - can put people’s lives in danger by diverting resources away from genuine emergencies and can delay responses attending serious or life threatening emergency calls.

"They also place additional strain on emergency services at a time when EMAS is dealing with a rising number of 999 calls."