A grandmother who started working for the NHS after being a patient is retiring after 50 years. 

Jean Redfern, a 79-year-old paediatric ambulatory care assistant on the Bluefin Ward in Worthing Hospital, completed her final shift this month.

She began working for the NHS half a century ago in the early 1970s at Southlands Hospital in Shoreham.

The grandmother of four was staying on the surgical ward as a patient when she was first offered the job.

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Jean, who was a stay-at-home mother to her two young sons at the time, said she was keen to help and was assisting staff to make the beds when the ward sister asked her if she would like to work at the hospital.

She was given an application form within the next hour.

Jean then temporarily began working two nights a week and said she "never looked back" from that moment.

The 79-year-old said: “I just fell into it and loved it. For a patient to say thank you, it means so much because you don’t get it in other jobs.

"I also loved working as part of a team. Everybody was so supportive.” 

During her half-century on the wards, Jean has worked in a number of  departments including gynaecology, orthopaedics, surgery and the maxillofacial unit (MFU).

She joined paediatric care 35 years ago where she went from being a healthcare assistant to a paediatric ambulatory care assistant.

Some of her many tasks involved administrative work, clinical care, making beds and helping take bloods.

She has been described by her colleagues as "dedicated to looking after her patients and their parents" and having a "warm smile".

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Jean said: “I have learnt so much. It’s a good career and I wish I had done it sooner. I have thoroughly enjoyed what I’ve been doing and could go home and not worry.

“You get out of a job what you put into it and the main thing is that you enjoy the job.

"Thank you to all for the support I’ve had from everyone because without them I wouldn’t have coped. It’s like a family here.”

Bluefin Ward Sister Sam Barnes said: "Jean has been an exemplary member of staff over the past 50 years.

"She always goes above and beyond for the patients and families in our care and really looks after the team working around her.

"Bluefin will be so lost without Jean, but we hope she enjoys her retirement, as she thoroughly deserves to."

The 79-year-old is planning to spend her retirement gardening, walking and going to the theatre.

Jean also said she will be coming back to work temporary shifts on the ward during busy periods.

To celebrate her retirement, friends and colleagues gathered on the ward on her final shift.

The 79-year-old, who has been described by colleagues as "much-loved", said she "will be coming back" when she can.