A woman who worked on the same hospital ward for 30 years claims she was unfairly made redundant.

Helen Harmes was devoted to her housekeeping job on a geriatric ward at Brighton General Hospital and was devastated when managers told her she would lose her job.

Ms Harmes, of Stephens Road, Hollingdean, Brighton, worked throughout the week at Sainsbury's and then woke at the crack of dawn to start work at 7.30pm every Saturday and Sunday morning for the past three decades.

She said she enjoyed the financial independence her tough work ethic gave her but also drew great pleasure from the job, She said: "The ward was my little kingdom. I used to love working with the old people.

"Some of them didn't get any visitors and I would talk to them, do their hair and fetch their shopping for them.

"They were things anyone would do but I was really proud of my work."

Her sadness at losing her job turned to fury when she learned that another member of the housekeeping department was doing the same duties on the ward.

She said: "How can it be that I was made redundant when the job still exists?

"I always worked hard. One Christmas I even walked through the snow to get to work because my taxi couldn't get through."

The 66-year-old is also frustrated because she was eligible for only 12 weeks of redundancy pay as she was over the age of retirement.

But under the Age Discrimination Act, which comes into force on October 1, she would have been entitled to 45 weeks of pay - the same rate as younger colleagues.

A spokeswoman for Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust denied there had been any wrongdoing.

She said Ms Harmes was contracted to work as a housekeeper across the hospital, rather than on a specific ward and it was on that basis she had been made redundant.

She said: "We have a policy of redeployment and re-employment and we followed it to the letter.

"Ms Harmes was offered alternative hours during the week but was not able to take them up because she has another job."