Paramedics responding to emergency calls in Sydney are being used as de facto taxi drivers to local shops.
Older residents are the main offenders — using their pensioner entitlements to secure a free ride in an ambulance instead of paying a taxi fare to go shopping, ambulance sources have confirmed.
An ambulance ride to Mt Druitt Hospital costs $290, but the fee is waived for pensioners and other entitlement card holders.
Paramedics have watched in horror as patients miraculously recover from headaches and other feigned ailments to go shopping across the road.
"You get them to the emergency department and they walk out the door. They are the same patients, you know who is going to do it," a source said.
"Once the ambulance (crew) has cleared paperwork, they leave and see the person crossing the road and going to the shopping center. An ambulance is an instant free taxi with a pension (entitlement) card."
Parents of chronically-ill children who rely on Mt Druitt Hospital were horrified to learn of the emergency scam.
Sarah Jones, from Willmot, has been told to call an ambulance as soon as her asthmatic 16-month-old son Ethan Kirkham has breathing problems. He spent three days in Mt Druitt hospital this month with asthma and bronchitis.
"It is just wrong and it upsets me greatly," Ms Jones said. "My son can have an attack any time."
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