Mother-of-two Dana Afrokomah Owusu, 28, from Kithurst Crescent, Goring, worked as a staff nurse at the hospital from May, 2005, until December, 2008, while claiming she was unemployed.

Owusu, also known as Banyard, admitted five offences of benefit fraud when she appeared at Chichester Crown Court on Monday, August 17.

The court heard she was overpaid £23,268.35 of income support, £18,551.93 of housing benefit and council tax benefit of £2,916.49; a grand total of £44,736.76.

The deception came to light when Owusu – who is originally from Zimbabwe – changed her name three or four times by deed poll, alerting the suspicions of Worthing Hospital counter-fraud officers concerned about her legal identity.

Their investigations with Worthing Council revealed she was wrongly claiming benefits and the council took over the case with the help of the Department of Work and Pensions.

Judge Charles Byers told Owusu: "Those who defraud public revenue steal from every honest citizen in the country.

"The money could have gone to those who needed it. Your conduct was persistent over a long period of time."