My medical background is in General Practice, I was a partner in Swansea until around 2005 when I decided to work in a more varied environment. I was appointed as a salaried GP in a small practice in the Upper Afan Valley in South Wales. At the time I was also appraisal coordinator for Swansea and undertook GP appraisals as well as managing a small team of local appraisers. I later combined the salaried GP role with that of Programme Coordinator for Cervical Screening Wales, and in 2009 applied for the role of Fee-Paid Medically Qualified Member for Social Security and Child Support, with Swansea as my primary venue. I was open to new opportunities in my career portfolio and it seemed like an interesting option.
Due to the commitments associated with my other roles, as well as having three children, my early sitting pattern was quite infrequent. Because of this it took me some time to get used to the work, especially the preparation required in advance of the sitting day. I enjoyed the teamwork involved when sitting as a panel, the flexibility and the ability to leave the case behind at the end of the day which was a welcome contrast to clinical medicine.
In 2012 I applied for the role of Regional Medical Member (RMM) for Wales and the South West. The other regions had appointed RMMs the previous year, but I had not applied then as I wasn’t sure I was ready.
The application process itself was fairly straight forward leading to a fair but challenging interview. I realised too late that I should have re-read my original application so that the competency examples I’d already given would be fresh in my mind.
I currently work 60% in the RMM role as a salaried judicial office holder with the option to also remain in clinical practice. I job share the 100% role with a colleague who works in the South West while I mainly work in Wales.
The RMM role adds more variety to the fee-paid work, when we undertake supportive visits for the new medical members and there are welcome opportunities to meet up with older colleagues and friends through medical appraisals. The opportunities around facilitating at training events as well as more involvement with the District Judges and the other RMMs at the training and annual conference make the work more social and collegiate. I have hugely enjoyed the role, which for me has come at the end of a very varied and fulfilling medical career.
An ongoing fascination and interest in medicine and staying up to date is a prerequisite for this work as well as an understanding and acceptance of the biopsychosocial elements that influence health, wellbeing and human behaviour. Being less of a ‘clinical doctor’ and more of a ‘judge’ has been a journey that has taken me a quite a while but I am quietly satisfied and confident that I understand and can articulate the functional aspects associated with the medical history of appellants in the context of the legal framework. It’s a worthwhile job and a privilege to do it.