Page last updated at 15:03 GMT, Sunday, 11 April 2010 16:03 UK

Police-probe East Sussex mental health unit to reopen

Sgt Richard Bexhell
Sgt Richard Bexhell was found hanged at the Woodlands Unit

An East Sussex psychiatric unit that was closed and investigated by police after the deaths of two men is to be reopened in July.

John Blair, 40, was found hanging at the Woodlands mental health ward on 19 October 2009. He died three days later in the Conquest Hospital, Hastings.

Sgt Richard Bexhell, 49, was discovered hanged at the unit on 29 August.

An independent review declared the unit was fit to be reopened after a £500,000 refit and suicide prevention training.

Sussex Police are currently investigating the circumstances surrounding the deaths of three men, including Mr Blair and Mr Bexhell, and a woman who had been admitted to units run by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

'Deepest sympathies'

Susanna Anley, 35, died at the Woodlands unit in April 2008, and Michael Stevens, 53, from Lancing, died at Worthing Hospital after he was found hanged in his room at the Meadowfield unit in Worthing.

Lisa Rodrigues, chief executive of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We are pleased that the review has given Woodlands a clean bill of health.

"We have listened closely to what the people who use our services have said and we are taking the opportunity between now and July to make improvements and bring services up to the highest possible standard."

Dr Tim Ojo, executive medical director, said: "We are committed to providing safe supportive care, and minimising risk amongst those using our mental health services.

"The death of anyone using our services is extremely sad, and we do everything we can to avoid such incidents occurring.

"We have extended our deepest sympathies to the families of the people who died at Woodlands. We will publish a copy of our internal report once the inquests have taken place."

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