Members of staff at an ambulance service which treats patients from Berkshire were abused after posts circulated online falsely claiming that 'mass pigeon killing' was to occur at one of their sites.

The posts have caused an increase in “unnecessary communication” at a time of significant pressure across the South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS), according to the service.

False rumours of bird culling circulated after a large increase in pigeons at the Portsmouth Patient Transport Service base.

“We would like to address the issue of inaccurate and misleading social media posts circulating regarding pest control management at SCAS,” said the Trust in a statement.

“This specifically relates to a suggestion of pigeon culling supposedly due to take place on one of our sites on Thursday, 6 January which is categorically untrue.

“There are no plans for any such activity to take place tomorrow.”

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Misleading social media posts included a stock image of a dead pigeon and lead to “significant abuse via email and phone calls from members of the public,” the Trust said.

Images of the bird were accompanied by all-caps fake posts reading: "Pigeon Lovers, we need your help to STOP THE MASS KILLING OF PIGEONS."

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The Trust said: “This is unacceptable and such activity online is irresponsible given the increase in unnecessary communication it has caused at a time of significant pressure across the Trust.

“We will not tolerate any form of abuse to our staff under any circumstances and the police have been informed.”

The Trust explained they have entered discussions with Natural England to find a solution to fouling the animals have caused.

“The associated health and safety risks posed to our staff are significant, along with the difficulties of ensuring that it does not adversely affect the cleanliness and condition of our patient transport vehicles, though we also take our commitment to the protection of wildlife very seriously too – hence our extensive preparatory work in this area.”

They are considering trapping the birds in cages with space, food and water and releasing them elsewhere, with netting then installed as a preventative measure to stop them returning to the site.

They continued: “We urge everyone to take note of what we have said and cease contacting various staff and the wider organisation about issues which are not true.

“It is standard practice for us to ensure ongoing management of pest control in the interests of the health and safety of our staff, patients and visitors.”