THIS week, I’m writing about the NHS, charities and time-wasting 999 phone calls. What’s the connection, I hear you say. Well, bear with me, but if you can’t stomach any further mention of the NHS or charities, go and have a cup of tea or flick ahead to the crossword page…
According to press reports, A&E waiting times in UK hospitals are at their worst on record as the NHS is coming under increasingly intense pressure.
The grim statistics are likely to add to growing fears that services could really struggle to cope this winter with the annual spike in demand – all the more since the coronavirus outbreak has been getting worse.
As for charities, according to the think tank, New Philanthropy Capital, they’re becoming more and more numerous in affluent areas of the UK instead of where they’re really needed.
The north-south charity deficit is highlighted by figures showing that, per 1,000 population, the affluent Cotswolds has nine times as many charities as Blackpool – England’s most deprived local authority – which has just 0.6.
Some things don’t change, though – for the UK emergency services. And that’s the number of bizarre/ hoax 999 calls made to it. How about a woman complaining that she’d been sent three saveloy and chips from the chip shop instead of one? Or a man asking for the time, and another complaining about a packet of biscuits being out of date?
The Met has released audio of some of these bizarre calls with a plea for people to use 999 for genuine emergencies only.
Chief Supt David Jackson said nuisance calls were a “huge waste” of resources, adding: “These hoax calls block the number from other members of the public who could be calling 999 in a real emergency, keeping people in danger waiting for longer and putting lives at risk.”
The Met’s call handlers identified 22,491 hoax 999 calls in the first 11 months of 2019.
In 1937, in just the first week of the 999 service, there were 91 hoax calls! As I said, little change there, then.
Nora Johnson’s crime thrillers ‘Betrayal,’ ‘The Girl in the Woods,’ ‘The Girl in the Red Dress,’ ‘No Way Back,’ ‘Landscape of Lies,’ ‘Retribution,’ ‘Soul Stealer,’ ‘The De Clerambault Code’ (www.nora-johnson.net) available online. All profits to Costa del Sol Cudeca cancer charity.