A mental health unit for patients needing rehabilitation has been temporarily closed because of fears the building is not safe.

Martlett Lodge is based in the grounds of the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath and cares for people with either long term mental health problems such as schizophrenia or depression.

A detailed survey was carried out last year and identified major structural problems with the building.

An inspection by the Mental Health Act Commission also highlighted concerns about the site's suitability and confirmed doubts regarding its long term future.

Sussex Partnership NHS Trust, which provides mental health services throughout the county, closed the unit earlier this month due to the potential risk to the safety of patients and staff.

All patients in the unit, which has ten beds, have either been transferred to other sites, in independent sector homes or discharged.

The 18 members of staff at the unit are now working elsewhere within the trust and there have been no redundancies.

A partnership trust spokeswoman said: "To help ensure residents from Martlett Lodge are offered an improved environment which meets their individual needs the following additional support has been put in place.

"Access to independent advocacy for current residents and individual assessments of care needs will be updated for every resident.

"Staff at Martlett Lodge have been trying to deliver good quality care within a poor environment and their efforts have been commended by the Mental Health Act Commission.

"Current residents will continue to need the support of staff during this transition period.

"Staff will be supported during this period by trust managers, human resource staff and staff side organisations."

The closure of the lodge is subject to a wider consultation due to start next month.

The changes at Martlett Lodge will be discussed at a West Sussex health overview and scrutiny committee on Monday.

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