Woman who called ambulance 400 times receives prison time

The 54-year-old was prosecuted under an act meant to curb abuse of the emergency system

SOUTH EAST WALES, UK — A 54-year-old woman who called an ambulance service more than 400 times in the last two years has been sentenced to prison.

Mariette McHarg called the Welsh Ambulance Service 408 times, visited the emergency department 29 times and called a general practitioner after clinical hours 127 times. Wales Online estimates the total cost of her medical visits exceeds £170,000 (over $220,000).

McHarg was prosecuted under the Communications Act when she appeared in court on Tuesday, and was also accused of assault against a police officer and two nurses. She 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,” Welsh Ambulance Service representative Robin Petterson said.

“We recognize 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.”

Petterson said the service attempted to resolve the matter outside of court, but after McHarg’s behaviour escalated, they were forced to “to pursue court action as a final deterrent.”

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