LONDON Ambulance Service has apologised to a man whose partner died from a heart attack waiting for an ambulance that took over an hour to reach her.
Monica Lewis, 57, who lived with partner Harry Smith off Lower Addiscombe Road, reportedly had an epileptic fit in the early hours of Friday morning.
But two ambulances sent to treat her were redirected to other "higher priority" calls, before one finally reached her an hour and ten minutes after the original plea for help.
Mr Smith and Ms Lewis's home is a ten minute drive from Croydon University Hospital.
A London Ambulance Service (LAS) spokeswoman said: "We would like to offer our sincere condolences to Mr Smith.
"We are very sorry that we were unable to send an ambulance response any sooner."
She confirmed a ambulance was called to the address at 12.29am on Friday (January 16) to reports of a person feeling unwell.
But, because the caller said the patient was "conscious and breathing", an ambulance sent to treat her was cancelled "to be available to respond to a higher priority incident".
A second ambulance later sent to the scene was diverted to a patient reported to be suffering from heart problems which LAS believed to be a higher priority call.
At 1.16am LAS called to check on Ms Lewis and upgraded her to a higher priority. Another ambulance was sent to treat her but did not arrive for 23 minutes, more than hour after Mr Smith's first call.
When paramedics finally reached Ms Lewis they discovered she suffered a heart attack.
The LAS spokeswoman said: "On arrival the patient was in cardiac arrest, despite extensive efforts from our staff to resuscitate her, sadly she died at the scene."
LAS, which said it was experiencing "severe pressure" at the time, missed two response time targets getting to Ms Lewis.
When the first call was made Ms Lewis's condition was classified as a 'C2' priority, meaning an ambulance should have reached her within 30 minutes. This target was missed because the ambulance had to go to a higher priority call.
When LAS phoned Ms Lewis at 1.16am they upgraded to a 'red call', the highest priority. Government targets state ambulances should reach red calls within eight minutes 75 per cent of the time, but on this occasion one did not reach Ms Lewis for 23 minutes.
Figures published last month show that only 54 per cent of ambulances on a red call – which includes cardiac arrest and traumatic injuries – in Croydon met this target.
LAS blamed a rise in calls in Croydon and a nationwide shortage of paramedics for the failing.