A 63-YEAR-OLD who broke her arm during a school PE lesson lay in a freezing playground for more than 90 minutes waiting for an ambulance.

Temperatures plunged to -2C on Monday when teaching assistant Barbara Blease tripped and fell at New Christ Church Primary School, in Milman Road, Whitley, fracturing a bone in the top of her arm.

Colleagues piled coats and blankets on top of her when paramedics failed to materialise. But South Central Ambulance Service admitted this week that while it was handling an exceptional number of life and death calls at the time, one free crew could not be deployed because they were on lunch break.

Mrs Blease's husband Duncan, who was by her side for more than an hour, said: "I am very angry that it took them so long. If we've got an ambulance service that thinks two hours is OK for an emergency then God help us all.

"My wife wasn't comfortable to move and they didn't feel right moving her so she was left in a mountain of clothes and a shiny blanket for nearly two hours.

"I'm not moaning about the ambulance crew because they were wonderful and the staff at the Royal Berks hospital were brilliant. But they could've sent a paramedic to see she was safe to move."

He added: "When you don't know what's wrong with someone you love and you're waiting for experts to arrive and then you find out they were on lunch break; I'm just surprised they think an hour and 34 minutes is OK."

Recovering at home on Wednesday Mrs Blease, who has worked at the school for 27 years, said: "It was very cold but the staff were amazing. It was incredibly painful and it did seem like a great deal of time."

South Central Ambulance spokesman James Keating-Wilkes admitted crews had gone 34 minutes over their one hour response time but said: "We had lots of life threatening calls in the area at the time which had to take priority.

"However, the clinical support desk rang back 51 minutes into the call to check on the patient and reassure them that we were responding. We did take longer getting to her and we apologise for that."