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30 December 2015, 05:00
Ambulances are turning up to the scene of 11 hoax calls a week, latest figures have shown.
There were a total of 1,318 prank 999 calls to the Scottish Ambulance Service in 2015, an increase of 144 from the previous year.
Of those, crews physically attended on 564 occasions before realising the call was a hoax.
The figure, which covers the year until the end of November, is more than the 487 times that resources arrived at the scene of a prank call during 2014.
In Glasgow, there were 183 incidents this year when crews turned up to a hoax call as well as 87 cases in the Lothians and 64 in Lanarkshire.
The Scottish Conservatives, who obtained the data through a Freedom of Information request, are now calling for tougher action on those guilty of prank calls to deter future increases.
The party's transport spokesman Alex Johnstone said: "When the ambulance service receives a nuisance call, it has very little choice but to attend the scene.
"It must be hugely frustrating for workers, particularly at busy times when they could be attending genuine emergencies.
"It's quite an astounding strain on resources not only for call-handlers to put up with these prank calls, but for crews and vehicles to attend these cases 11 times a week.
"We need to get tough on those who think it's acceptable to make a prank 999 call, even if they think they're just doing it for a joke.
"That way, people considering this kind of behaviour in future would perhaps think again before embarking on such moronic action.''
A spokesman for the Scottish Ambulance Service said: "Ambulance crews respond to around 750,000 emergency incidents per year across Scotland.
"Anyone who calls 999 without a genuine need is potentially putting lives at risk by tying up valuable resources that could be needed to respond to a life-threatening call.
"When appropriate, malicious or nuisance callers are reported to the police, however in many cases the call is the result of a mental-health issue rather than malice and the patient may still need help.
"In these cases, the relevant agencies are advised so that appropriate care can be provided.''