One out of every 20 people taken to hospital by ambulance this winter were left waiting at least 30 minutes before being handed over to the emergency department.

The latest NHS figures show the amount of 'ambulance handover delays' during November 20 and December 31 at the Croydon University Hospital, as 206 people (or 34 a week) were forced to wait.

Dr Kathryn Channing, clinical business unit lead for emergency services at Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, said the hospital was put under a very big strain over Christmas.

“All patients arriving by ambulance are taken inside and seen immediately by our qualified clinical staff - receiving urgent care straight away whenever it is needed," she said.

“We always try to ensure handovers are efficient so that paramedics and ambulance technicians can get back on the road as soon as possible. "Until then, they provide ongoing care for patients they deliver. The latest published data shows we have far fewer handover delays than many other London acute trusts.

“It is a very busy period but we are coping, thanks in large part to our very dedicated and hard-working staff.

"Between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve 630 people were brought to us by ambulance."

Croydon North MP Steve Reed said the result just weren't good enough.

“These figures are absolutely shocking," he said.

"They are a damning picture of our crumbling NHS under Theresa May’s Conservatives.

“Over 200 desperately ill people have been left in the back of ambulances during the cold winter months.

"NHS services in Croydon can no longer cope after years of underfunding and neglect by the Conservative Government.

“You have to ask why the Conservatives are throwing away billions in tax cuts for wealthy corporations while our NHS is starved of the funding it needs to keep people well.”

In a letter put out by the NHS in November, addressing ambulance handover delays, it said that the delays "must be recognised as a system wide responsibility."

Dr Channing said work was already under way to manage the high demand of the hospital.

“To sustain our quality care during periods of high demand, we have opened extra beds at Croydon University Hospital," she said.

"We also work hard to help our patients return home as soon as they are well enough, and coordinate with social care organisations, GPs and the voluntary sector so that our patients continue to receive support at home when needed.

“We are urging the public to help ease the pressure on us by not coming to our emergency department if they do not need A&E treatment.

"There are other options including pharmacies, walk in centres and local GPs who can often provide the care people need.”