A new solicitor has been appointed to the busy Mental Health department at the Oswestry office of leading regional law firm, GHP Legal.
Andy Howarth is the latest mental health lawyer to join a highly qualified team of specialists at the firm which is one of very few in the area that has the expertise to deal with the growing number of mental health referrals the country is currently seeing.
Having previously worked for the mental health charity, Mind, Andy found his niche there and decided to study this area of law, qualifying at the age of 44. He has also worked as an inspector of psychiatric hospitals with the Care Quality Commission.
“I originally began my adult working life as a printer, a graphic designer and as an English teacher in Finland,” says Andy, “but after becoming involved with Mind as a volunteer in 1990 I realised this was the niche I was looking for.
“At that time Mind ran a Sunday drop-in and an advocacy scheme. Nowadays Advocacy is on a statutory footing, but it was schemes like ours in Salford that initially demonstrated the value of it. With one in three people now experiencing mental illness at some stage of their lives it is such an important service and one we must continue to promote.”
Natalie Roberts, a partner of GHP Legal and head of the Mental Health team, said: “Andy is a welcome addition to our growing team, which also includes a solicitor-advocate who can represent patients and their relatives in the higher courts.
“We regularly act for patients in hospitals and nursing homes across North Wales, Mid Wales, Shropshire and the North West and if we believe patients’ rights are being infringed we will vigorously enforce those rights and advise on appropriate after-care following hospital discharge. Andy’s experience will be a further asset to the department.”