Reckless hoax callers have targeted ambulance staff across Scotland almost 1,400 times in the past five years, new figures reveal.

A total of 1,368 malicious calls have been recorded by the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) since 2019, with over 300 occurring last year alone.

Scottish Conservative MSP Maurice Golden, who uncovered the statistics through a Freedom of Information Request, said the calls are "risking lives."

It comes as under-pressure ambulance crews attended 1,136 of the incidents since 2019 that turned out to be false alarms.

This wasted over 767 hours of ambulance service time.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: It wasted over 767 hours of ambulance service time dealing with themIt wasted over 767 hours of ambulance service time dealing with them (Image: Newsquest)

Mr Golden said: “The number of hoax calls being received by our overstretched ambulance crews is appalling.

“Over 300 have already been recorded this year alone, in what is clearly a deeply concerning trend.

“This is the last thing ambulance staff need to be dealing with at a time when the SNP have failed to give them the resources they need to attend genuine emergencies in a timely manner.

“While pranksters may think these calls are a joke, nothing could be further from the truth.”

Mr Golden said hoax callers were “putting lives at risk” due to their reckless behaviour.

He added: “These selfish individuals should be severely punished when they are caught. They have diverted resources – which are already scarce thanks to the SNP’s lack of action – away from real incidents.

“That could be the difference between life and death for some if crucial time is wasted on travelling to respond to incidents that turn out to be a total hoax.”

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Figures revealed that the service received 1,368 prank calls over the five year periodFigures revealed that the service received 1,368 prank calls over the five year period (Image: Newsquest)

The figures come as Scottish ambulance staff were left extremely busy over Hogmanay, facing more than 2,000 emergency calls between 7pm on New Year's Eve and 7am on January 1.

The SAS said staff had to handle around one call every 15 seconds during the busiest period between 1.30am and 2.45am. 

Health Secretary Michael Matheson said: “We strongly condemn hoax or malicious calls to our emergency services.

“These are not victimless pranks and they can potentially distract and divert vital resources and attention away from those who are in life-threatening situations.

“The Emergency Workers Act enables penalties of up to 12 months imprisonment, a £10,000 fine, or both, to be imposed following conviction for offences against ambulance staff.

“We continue to invest in supporting the Scottish Ambulance Service staff and patients, including a record number of additional staff since 2020, with a further 317 to be recruited by April.”