In conversation with Tribunal Medical Member Dr Gabrielle Milner

Can you introduce yourself?

My name is Dr Gabrielle Milner. I am a medical member for the Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT) and Deputy Chief Medical Member MHRT.

What is your background?

I worked as a general adult consultant psychiatrist in the NHS until 2015. Since then, I have worked in private practice and also undertake psychiatric medical reports. Additionally, I have been a medical member for the MHRT since 2002.

Photo of Dr Gabrielle Milner. She is smiling
Dr Gabrielle Milner

How many years of experience do you have?

I trained at Birmingham Medical School and then specialised in psychiatry.
I was appointed as a general adult psychiatrist for the NHS in 1990.

What type of member are you? And what does your role entail?

I sit on the MHRT panel as a medical member. The role involves seeing patients if requested before the tribunal and providing psychiatric expertise to the panel. Although the legal member is responsible for writing the decision, each panel member also has a responsibility to ensure that the decision is appropriately written and recorded by the legal member. Currently tribunals are held either face to face or remotely. There are usually two tribunals a day.

What is the best part of being a medical member?

The best part of being a medical member is meeting colleagues from different professional backgrounds, working as a team, visiting different mental health units, and using judicial skills and psychiatric expertise to reach decisions.

What made you apply to become a medical member?

As a general psychiatrist I used to have to give evidence on behalf of the responsible authority. i.e., the hospital. I wished to understand the process fully but also improve my own practice.

How do you balance being a medical member with your career?

Working full time for the NHS and being a medical member was difficult, but I managed to negotiate time shifting so I was able to commit one day every fortnight to sitting as a tribunal member.

For people with portfolio careers or who are retired from their primary roles, working for the MHRT gives a degree of flexibility which is not always available in other areas.

How did you agree this role with your employer?

For trusts it is important that their own workforce has an input to the MHRT.
I highlighted this and became involved in training other disciplines for giving evidence to the MHRT.

What was the application process like for becoming a member? Do you have any top tips or guidance on the process?

The application process was quite daunting. I would advise applicants to speak to other MHRT medical members and prepare adequately in advance, in particular ensuring that they make themselves aware of the criteria for detention under the mental health act and also the role and purpose of the MHRT.

What other opportunities has the role brought?

I was appointed as deputy chief medical member in 2015. As part of this role, I have become actively involved in training other medical members and hold a responsibility for medical appraisals as well as being a mentor for new medical members.

There are opportunities to become involved in teaching, training, appraisal of tribunal members, and mentoring.

What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a medical member?

Ensure you can meet the minimum commitment for hearing days which is twenty per year. And, most importantly, talk to other medical members about the role and their experience.