Dr Helen Boyle was one of the most remarkable women ever to have lived and worked in Brighton and Hove.

She pioneered the treatment of mental illness for many working class women who previously would have received no help.

Helen Boyle was the first woman GP in Brighton and later became the first woman consultant psychiatrist at the Royal Sussex County Hospital. In 1939 she was the first woman president of the Medico Psychological Association.

Born to a large family in Dublin in 1869, she came to England in 1887 after a family scandal about which little is known. She trained at the London School of Medicine for Women from 1890 and three years later gained the Scottish triple qualification. The speed of her work was remarkable.

After studying in Brussels, she worked at the London County Asylum in Essex and the Canning Town Mission Hospital in London.

This gave her direct experience of the severe mental and physical stress faced by many women living in poverty.

Dr Boyle moved to Hove in 1897 with Dr Mabel Jones, setting up a practice in Church Road. They also started the Lewes Road Dispensary for Women and Children in Hanover which was then a deprived area.

She spent most of her spare time at the dispensary which offered free or low cost treatment to women who could not afford normal medical charges.

Her long-term ambition was to transform the treatment of working class women in the early stages of mental illnesses. In 1905 she opened the Lewes Road Hospital in Roundhill Crescent, Brighton.

Before then, women with mental illnesses made worse by deprivation were often sent to asylums with no help. Dr Boyle pioneered giving them help before they became certifiable.

Renamed the Lady Chichester Hospital for Treatment of Early Mental Disorders, it moved to Aldrington House in New Church Road, Hove, in 1919.

Dr Boyle worked there until the National Health Service took it over in 1948. It remained there for another 40 years. She retired to the village of Pyecombe and died there in 1957 just after her 88th birthday.

She wanted to offer more medical care in the First World War in Serbia during 1915 and was later honoured for her work.

Despite her rather forbidding appearance, she had a good sense of humour and friends found her fun. She also disliked paperwork and left that to colleagues wherever possible.

Because of her poor eyesight, she never drove a car and was usually chauffeured to work.

She was constantly having to raise money for treating patients and gave generously herself to the hospital. Thousands of women had cause to be deeply grateful to her.

Often she found that clearing up a physical illness or complaint led rapidly to an improvement in mental health.

A bus has been named after her in Brighton and Hove. Earlier this year a plaque was placed on Aldrington House by the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust which treats mental illnesses in the county.