Dr Sally Bennett, Regional Medical Member of the First-tier Tribunal, Social Entitlement Chamber

I was working part-time as a GP partner and trainer after returning from maternity leave in 2007. I felt ready to move into other areas where I could use my medical expertise and experience but in a completely different way. A judge in the jurisdiction told me about Medically Qualified Tribunal Members. I applied for the role of Fee-Paid Medically Qualified Member (MQM) of the First-tier Tribunal, Social Entitlement Chamber in 2010 and started sitting in 2011.

I was appointed a Regional Medical Appraiser for the North West Region in 2013, which gave me the opportunity to meet more MQMs outside of training, which I’m sure helped develop my skills further. I also started facilitating at tribunal training events and quickly realised that my future lay within the tribunal service. Over time I increased my tribunal sittings alongside my GP work, medical school examining and teaching.   

As a Fee-Paid MQM I found the tribunal work extremely compatible with having a young child and the flexibility allowed me to work around school holidays. I have met and worked with so many supportive, knowledgeable and interesting people that I’m sure I would not have had the opportunity to do so otherwise. My background as a GP has given me a sound knowledge base, but developing judicial skills and an understanding of the relevant law is a fascinating and truly enjoyable part of the job, and something I never envisaged would be a part of my career before my appointment.

When the Regional Medical Member (North West region) role was advertised I applied immediately. Preparation and careful consideration of the material and advice on the JAC website helped greatly when completing the application form. Careful selection of examples that demonstrate the judicial competencies is time well spent, and will be discussed during interview, if shortlisted. Researching the role thoroughly and talking to other Regional Medical Members (RMMs) was also invaluable.  

Besides sitting on appeals, my role involves devising and delivering training both nationally (with the Chief Medical Member and my fellow RMMs) and locally, overseeing appraisals, mentoring doctors and dealing with any issues, questions or queries raised by them and liaising with the Regional Tribunal Judge and District Tribunal Judges regarding both practical and medical matters. Every day is different, and I can honestly say I love my job!