Mental health trust probed over patient deaths

Police have launched an investigation into the deaths of four patients who were under the care of a mental health trust, it was disclosed today.

Sussex Police are examining the circumstances surrounding the deaths of three men and a woman after they had been admitted to two units run by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.



Police said the investigation into the trust, which provides mental health care throughout East and West Sussex, would be "wide-ranging and exploratory".



Inquiries began following the death of Sussex Police Sergeant Richard Bexhell, 49, who was found hanged at the Woodlands unit in Hastings and later died in hospital on August 30 last year.



When John Blair, 40, from Hastings, was found hanged in his room at the same unit on October 19, police decided to look back at other deaths at the trust.



The other two deaths relate to those of 35-year-old Susanna Anley, who is understood to have suffocated herself with a plastic bag in April 2008 at Woodlands, and Michael Stevens, 53, from Lancing, who hanged himself with a belt in his room at the Meadowfield unit in Worthing.



An inquest into his death last year heard Mr Stevens, a hospital porter, was able to hang himself following a "breakdown in communication" and a failure to implement observation policies.



Inquests into the deaths of the other three patients have yet to be heard, the trust said.



A Sussex Police spokesman said: "Sussex Police are establishing the facts surrounding these four deaths and are being assisted in the investigation by the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.



"The police are working closely with the Crown Prosecution Service."



Following the deaths of Mr Bexhell and Mr Blair, the trust closed Woodlands, which is based on the site of the Conquest Hospital. A trust spokesman said it is unlikely to reopen until investigations have been completed.



At the time of the closure, the trust said it would be reviewing guidelines on safety and security. It added that it had already implemented some early recommendations from the ongoing inquiry into Mr Bexhell's death.



These included revised policy on observations for people who are assessed as being at high risk of harming themselves. The other 25 patients at Woodlands were transferred to other facilities run by the trust.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
Tax now accounts for ‘nearly 80%’ of the price of a bottle of whisky
news

Arts and Entertainment
Peppa Pig wearing her golden boots
film

"Oink! Oink! Hee hee hee!" First interview with the big-screen star

Life and Style
tech

Biohacking group hopes technology will lead people to think about even more dystopian uses

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee