James Gardner’s sister Janice Mabert has written to her MP Jim Dowd and to Croydon North MP Steve Reed calling for Parliament to get a grip on the NHS after her brother waited almost five hours for an ambulance.

Lakeside nursing home resident Mr Gardner suffers from multiple sclerosis, is paralysed from the waist down and is blind.

He needed to be taken to hospital after developing a urine infection and having a very high temperature.

Staff at the South Norwood home called for an ambulance at about 4pm on December 21, yet the 65- year-old did not leave until 8.45pm.

Ms Mabert said: “When he gets urine infections they raise his temperature, which can make him go into a state of shock.

“By about 7pm I was panicking and I was horrified about the long wait for the ambulance.

“I phoned and said my brother is sitting in a nursing home and they said, ‘We are really sorry but we don’t have any spare. We don’t have any ambulances’.

“I do not want to hear that people are sorry, I just want to know what people are going to do about it.

“The ambulances are sitting there waiting outside hospitals and that is appalling.”

Precise figures for December 21 are not available but between December 19 and 21 there were 18 occasions when there was more than a 30-minute wait before a patient in an ambulance was handed to staff at Croydon University Hospital.

The London Ambulance Service has been forced to prioritise how it responds to emergency callouts to best cope with demand.

A London Ambulance Service spokesman said: “Based on the information provided to us by the caller, the patient was conscious and breathing.

“An ambulance crew arrived on the scene at 8.47pm and the patient was taken to Croydon University Hospital.

“We are sorry we could not get there sooner and for any discomfort or any inconvenience this may have caused the patient.

“We were very busy and took more than 5,200 emergency calls that day and we always prioritise patients in a serious or life-threatening condition.”