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David White is a fee-paid Medical Member of the First-tier Tribunal, HESC (Mental Health). He is a consultant psychiatrist specialising in old-age. He has a qualification in British Sign Language (BSL).
“I thought the selection process was very fair. It was refreshing to go through an interview process that was so tailored to what you will actually be doing in the role.
“I am relatively young and I wasn’t sure how that would play out. I have given evidence to Tribunals from the other side, as a consultant psychiatrist, and I thought it was notable that Tribunal members were older, more experienced, more senior. So I did wonder whether there would be any sort of unconscious bias in favour of older people perhaps with more experience. But in fact it didn’t come across that way at all. It was very deliberately focussed on the competencies they were looking for and the interviewers kept coming back to that. I believe the judiciary should represent the population, so it’s good to appoint people from a wide range of age groups.
“The selection day was really well administered. It kept to time, there was someone allocated to me whose job was to make sure I was at ease and in the right place at the right time. The day ran extremely smoothly and I could concentrate and focus on my interview. I wasn’t necessarily expecting that - it was a big thing to come to London, to the Ministry of Justice and you expect it to be very stiff and formal, but actually it wasn’t like that at all.
“I sit in the West Midlands where there is a Deaf mental health unit, so there is every chance I will go to a Tribunal at the unit and make use of my BSL qualification. I am not fluent enough to sign directly to Deaf patients in a tribunal setting, but I have an understanding of the communication needs of Deaf people. If I am involved in a Tribunal for somebody who is Deaf I could help the other panel members to understand how to interact with the interpreter.
“I would absolutely recommend this role to someone at my age and stage. When you start as a consultant psychiatrist it’s all new and the clinical work is quite daunting. Within three or four years you are on top of that. Then it’s really important to take on other work that is not directly clinical so that you’ve got a balance of practice and something new and challenging to do. It gets you out of your base NHS hospital, allows you to observe the practice of others, and to see how things are done in other Trusts. It gives you many things you can take back to your own practice.”