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Shocking figures show patient called ambulance service more than 500 times in one year

Figures show five patients called the East of England Ambulance Service Trust 1,895 in a year. Picture: SIMON PARKER

Figures show five patients called the East of England Ambulance Service Trust 1,895 in a year. Picture: SIMON PARKER

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The region’s ambulance service received more than 500 calls from just one patient last year - but they were only taken to hospital 20 times.

A total of 1,895 calls were made to the East of England Ambulance Trust (EEAST) by just five people between November 1, 2016 and October 31, 2017, revealing the pressure so-called frequent callers can put on the system.

Ambulance crews were dispatched 192 times, resulting in 36 trips to hospital, a freedom of information request from the BBC found.

A caller is deemed frequent when they called at least five times a month, or at least 12 times in three months.

Nationally they cost the NHS almost £19million a year.

But an ambulance spokesman stressed frequent callers should “not necessarily be considered a nuisance” as many suffered from long-term conditions that could need regular contact.

An EEAST spokesman said: “These calls only represent a small number of our overall call volume, but can make it more challenging to respond to those patients who have serious, life-threatening emergencies.

“These patients often have complex health and social care needs, so we work closely with other healthcare organisations to support them in the best way possible.

“We have a frequent caller policy and if someone is identified as needing this kind of support, we work with providers like the patient’s GP to develop the patient an individual frequent caller plan.

“For example, although some cases are different, instead of sending a response to these patients every time they call, they could instead be offered a phone-call with a paramedic on our clinical support desk in our control rooms.

“Equally, in extreme circumstances we can limit the number of ambulance responses sent in a day to prolific frequent callers, in agreement with the patient’s GP.”

In the East of England the most frequent caller called 511 times in the space of a year.

The highest number of calls made by a single patient nationally was recorded in London, where the ambulance service was contacted 3,594 times.

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