Health unit in St Leonards-on-Sea reopens after deaths

A Sussex NHS mental health trust which was at the centre of a police investigation into the deaths of five patients is due to reopen next week.

The Woodlands Centre for Acute Care, in St Leonards-on-Sea, closed in October after two suicides occurred within months of each other.

Sussex Police investigated their deaths and those of three other patients at Sussex Partnership NHS Trust hospitals.

No criminal charges were brought as a result.

An independent investigation into the centre also gave it the all-clear.

The unit has since undergone a £500,000, patient-led redesign and all 33 bedrooms and bathrooms have been refurbished.

Additional training

All staff have had additional training and development, with specific attention given to risk management and suicide risk reduction.

The centre was shut after John Blair, 40, and Sgt Richard Bexhell, 49, were found hanged less then two months apart.

Mr Blair was found hanging on 19 October 2009. He died three days later in the Conquest Hospital, in Hastings.

Sgt Richard Bexhell, 49, was discovered hanged at the unit on 29 August 2009 while Susanna Anley, 35, died at the Woodlands unit in April 2008.

Michael Stevens, 53, from Lancing, died at Worthing Hospital after he was found hanged in his room at the Meadowfield unit in Worthing in September the same year.

A 27-year-old man was found dead in the toilets of a public area of Millview Hospital in Hove on 8 March this year.

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