Mental health expert just can’t help his caring nature
GREGG Wright has been a mental health nursing expert witness for Jane James & Associates since 2019, but the notion of taking on such a role first came to him years ago.
“I was seriously injured while dealing with a patient when I was working as a psychiatric nurse in Ireland and I ended up with some broken cervical and lumber vertebra and was unable to work for a number of years,” he says. “I recall at the time there were no expert witnesses in Ireland, and one was brought in from England, so that planted a seed for me.”
Gregg was brought up in rural County Westmeath in the centre of Ireland and followed his mother, a psychiatric therapist and elder brother who had just qualified as a psychiatric nurse, into nursing.
He quickly discovered a passion for caring, something he believes is in-built into anyone who chooses the profession. He says: “My personality wouldn’t be great as a City of London trader, I’d give everyone their money back if they lost it.”
His belief in his ability was boosted when he went to work in Australia. “I was still a junior nurse in Ireland but when I went to Australia, I had only been there a week when I was put in charge of an acute ward,” he says.
“I thought to myself ‘it’s actually okay being in charge, I quite like it’. It was only then I realised that I wasn’t too bad at it at all.”
He came back to the northern hemisphere to work in London and then Ireland in various roles, including senior positions at London’s renowned Bethlem and Maudsley Hospitals.
He ended up retiring from Ireland’s health service in 2017, aged 55, but there was no suggestion of settling down. “We thought about going back to Australia, but my wife is an IT contractor and was finishing a project, so we moved to London,” he says.
Gregg has worked in various senior roles within mental health. In March 2020, he was approached by a private care company, who provide supported accommodation for people with complex mental health needs and was asked to co-ordinate their practices and procedures on coronavirus.
“It was tough going for a while because no one knew much about Covid -19, and the rules and regulations changed constantly, but none of the staff or patients here have yet had coronavirus so that has been positive,” he says.
His 40-year career in mental health has seen many changes but he says the evolution of the drugs used to help patients has been the biggest change of all. “The old-type medicines have gone and have been replaced with drugs with fewer side effects, which is especially helpful for people living in the community,” he says.
Far from slowing down, Gregg is still unearthing new challenges and is about to open his own business, a community support house for people with complex mental health needs in Hounslow.
He has remained in the same clinical role, as well as working with Jane James and Associates. He says: “Becoming an expert witness has allowed me to put my experience and knowledge I have learnt over the years, into assisting the Court with my opinions and recommendations. It has been a challenge, but I have had great support from Luci, Head of Operations and Clinical Support and the team at Jane James and Associates.”
Gregg takes instructions from both Claimant and Defendant solicitors for liability and quantum reporting on acute and forensic psychiatry, which includes performing mental health and risk assessments and devising and implementing person centred and empowering care plans and care packages.
He says his satisfaction in the role comes from completing a good report that is impartial. He says: “I like to think my reports are straight down the middle and when reading them, you wouldn’t know if I was writing them for the Defendant or the Claimant.”