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Woman jailed for six months for calling ambulance too many times

A woman from Barry who called the Welsh Ambulance Service more than 400 times in the last two years has been jailed for six months.

Mariette Mcharg appeared before Cardiff Magistrates Court yesterday on a number of charges, which also included the assault of a police officer and the assault of two nurses.

Mariette Mcharg called the Welsh Ambulance Service more than 400 times in two years.

In total Mcharg made 408 calls to the Trust via 999 over a two-year period.

She also attended the Emergency Unit at University Hospital of Wales 59 times equalling 372 hours of care, with an additional 55 attendances to Llandough Poisons Unit and 127 calls to GP Out of Hours.

To date, 356 unit hours have been taken up managing the calls using ambulance resources at a cost to the taxpayer of £78,000, and her unscheduled care contacts within Cardiff and Vale University Health Board area are at an additional cost of £94,611.

The 54-year-old was prosecuted under the Communications Act in relation to the calls, and as a result of all the charges, was sentenced to 24 weeks in prison.

We welcome the verdict as we only ever take court action against frequent callers as a last resort.

We recognise that some frequent callers have complex needs, and 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.

It’s essential that we protect this precious service for those genuine life-threatening situations.

– Robin Petterson, the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Clinical Support Officer for Cardiff and Vale

We have worked in partnership with Welsh Ambulance Services Trust to manage Ms Mcharg’s frequent contacts to the unscheduled care services.

However she has persisted with this behaviour, despite intensive support, investigations, referrals and case conferences designed to support her in the community and divert her away from emergency and unscheduled care services.

– Anna Sussex, Case Load Manager for Frequent Attendees at Cardiff and Vale Health Board


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