A 50-YEAR-OLD woman who called an ambulance service 1,100 times cost it more than £240,000, a court heard.

Linda Cremin, of Casterbridge Road, Blackheath, made the calls to the London Ambulance Service between December 2003 and this year.

She pleaded guilty to a charge of making nuisance phone calls to emergency services.

At Woolwich Crown Court on February 11, she was given a 28-day suspended jail sentence and a prohibited activity order to prevent her from making false and unnecessary calls.

The sentence is suspended for six months, during which time a third party may call on her behalf in a real emergency. She was also ordered to pay £50 costs.

London Ambulance Service patient advice and liaison service manager Gary Bassett said: "Making unnecessary phone calls to the ambulance service puts other people's lives at risk.

"It diverts resources away from being able to respond to higher priority emergencies.

"We are aware of a significant number of frequent callers across London and we remain committed to working with other health and social care agencies to ensure these patients can access services appropriate to their needs.

"However, I hope the suspended sentence will send a clear message we cannot allow this type of misuse of the 999 system to continue without taking action."

Detective Superintendent Janice McClean of Greenwich police said: "The case demonstrates police will not tolerate this kind of behaviour and will always investigate incidents of this nature.

"The misuse of emergency services seriously diverts attention from the public who urgently need our intervention and assistance.

"Ms Cremin made a significant dent in the public purse."

The ambulance service estimates frequent callers cost it more than £5m a year.