Hoax ambulance calls flood South Tyrone

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Ambulance crews have been sent to deal with 676 calls in the Southern Trust area, including South Tyrone, that have turned out to be hoaxes.

Health Minister Michelle O’Neill has revealed that – across the North – callers had hung up almost 9,000 times before their calls were answered.

It also emerged that the NI Ambulance Service had missed its eight-minute target to arrive at the scene of life-threatening calls, in both of the last two years.

Meanwhile, it has also emerged that Health Minister Michelle O’Neill has spent just over £5,000 on a private office with no full-time staff at South Tyrone Hospital.

The details were revealed at the Northern Ireland Assembly after a question by UUP MLA Rosemary Barton.

Ms O’Neill took up the health ministry in May, after having previously held the Agriculture and Rural Development portfolio.

The office is classed as a ‘Ministerial Private Office’ and will be sited in one of the former nurses quarters of South Tyrone Hospital.

A Department of Health spokesperson confirmed that the office will be used on an “ad hoc basis according to the Minister’s diary commitments”.

“No staff will work on a full time basis in my private office in South Tyrone Hospital,” said the minister in response to a further question on the office.

“My private secretary and I will use the office as a base when I am conducting Ministerial business in the surrounding area.”

The information was released in response to an assembly question from UUP MLA Rosemary Barton.