Since the launch of the new 1813 emergency phone line on January 1, four doctors have called more than 255 times in an attempt to tie up the lines, DR Nyheder reports.
Copenhagen residents must now call 1813 before heading to A&E or if they fall ill outside of their doctor’s opening hours.
While it has been criticised for long waiting times, Copenhagen’s health authority, Region Hovedstaden, says that doctors have conspired to keep the lines busy.
Frivolous phone calls
“A preliminary analysis of the activity on the phone line suggests that there have been many frivolous phone calls that have needlessly disturbed the staff,” Region Hovedstaden’s group managing director Svend Hartling wrote in an email to Ritzau.
The health authority’s political leader, chairman Sophie Hæstorp Andersen (S), said she was disappointed by the revelation.
“I am shocked that a small core of doctors have tried to undermine the system and contribute to long waiting times. They are stealing time from sick people who can’t get through,” Andersen told Politiken newspaper.
The fact that doctors had conspired to harass the number was revealed in a closed Facebook group where doctors advised each other to use temporary phone cards in order to prevent their numbers from being traced.
A number of callers who were traced to doctor’s clinics verbally abused the nurses receiving the call after they got through, or simply hung up.
Bruno Melgaard Jensen, chairman of the doctor’s union PLO, said that the doctors’ behaviour was unacceptable.
“I don’t think that sabotaging each other is the right way to work in the health service,” Jensen told DR Nyheder.
Not responsible for delays
Andersen said that Region Hovedstaden had not yet decided what action to take against the doctors.
“If we found out that a person had deliberately and repeatedly called the emergency number 112, we would report them to the police, but this case is different,” Andersen said.
According to Region Hovedstaden, the high volume of pranks calls affected how long some legitimate callers were told they would have to wait, but were not a major contributing factor to the long waiting times.
Region Hovedstaden has been forced to walk back its guarantee that 90 percent of calls would be answered within three minutes. The new goal is to hit that benchmark by April, a full three months after launching.