Jerard Ross

Mr Jerard Ross
Medico-legal adviser, The MDU

Before joining the MDU, Jerard was a consultant in adult and paediatric neurosurgery in Edinburgh – where he was the surgeon to the Scottish National Paediatric Epilepsy Programme. He now provides advice and support to doctors undergoing GMC investigation, experiencing difficulty in their work or facing tricky medico-legal dilemmas.

What sparked your interest in the legal aspects of medicine?

After being a consultant for a few years I started doing medico-legal expert work. I enjoyed the forensic nature of poring over notes looking for important details and answering the very particular questions posed by solicitors. I also enjoyed meeting with solicitors and writing good reports.

What extra skills or knowledge have you had to pick up?

I had to buff up my time management skills, broaden my knowledge of medicine and of course learn more about the difficulties facing doctors in modern practice in the UK. I've also had to improve my softer communication skills to help me support vulnerable members.

What's the most important part of the job for you?

I like getting an answer to a thorny question by applying basic principles, and I very much enjoy helping doctors get through what many regard as the worst times of their professional lives. We support a lot of doctors who are going through a difficult time, and getting them into the right frame of mind to deal with allegations or concerns is part of my job.

I've always been very task-orientated and like setting myself things that need doing and dealing with them through the working day. The satisfaction of a completed list is significant.

What do you most enjoy about your role?

Closely reading texts to pick up key bits of information, writing a sound piece of advice which makes sense and is backed up by solid references, helping members get through tough times and arming them with the skills to do so and avoid future issues. I enjoy working with a closely-knit team who all muck in when those inevitable busy times come. I also enjoy working with our solicitors and the barristers we instruct; I learn something new every day.

What skills does a great MLA need?

Patience, empathy, attention to detail and an ability not to be overwhelmed when others feel that way.

 

Dr Sissy Frank

Dr Sissy Frank
Medico-legal adviser, The MDU

Sissy trained in law at Stanford University and medicine at Harvard Medical School. She completed her residency in paediatrics in the US before moving to the UK and completing further training in general practice. She worked as a GP partner in Kent before joining the MDU as a medico-legal adviser.

What sparked your interest in the legal aspects of medicine?

I've always been interested in the interplay between law and medicine. Having completed my medical and legal qualifications abroad, I retrained in the NHS and worked within the NHS in a variety of roles before becoming a medico-legal adviser.

Being an MLA allows me to consider the broader issues raised within medical practice

What extra skills or knowledge have you had to pick up?

This is a job which requires you to be a self-starter – you need to make a schedule and stick to it. It's also a job for someone who likes their own company. As we work from home, there are fewer 'water cooler moments' than you'll have working in an office.

What's the most important part of the job for you?

Being an MLA allows me to consider the broader issues raised within medical practice. I deal with a huge variety of concerns relating to ethics, regulatory body proceedings, complaints, statements for adverse incidents and reports for the coroner, to name just a few.

I get great job satisfaction from helping medical professionals find a way forward in situations where there may be tension or uncertainty between the position of the professional and the patient.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I like discussing ethical or legal issues or practical concerns around relevant topics like consent, capacity and confidentiality, and helping people solve sometimes seemingly intractable dilemmas. I find it immensely rewarding to help fellow professionals who may be upset, frustrated or distressed and provide guidance or assistance that may make their jobs somewhat easier.

Being an MLA is a great job, and one that provides great opportunities and rewards for someone interested in examining the larger questions and overarching principles that guide medical practice.

What skills does a great MLA need?

On a practical level, it is of course important to have experience within the UK healthcare system. It's also vital to have excellent written and verbal communication skills, as the issues you are dealing with can sometimes be quite emotive and subtle. So it's important to listen well to the information you are being given and the concerns being expressed, and to convey your thoughts clearly.

As some of your time is involved in teaching others – whether in written form responding to queries, answering questions on the telephone, liaising informally with individuals or more formally in providing presentations, it's important to present your thoughts in a clear, concise and coherent manner.

The role is a busy one, so it’s important to be well organised and able to prioritise effectively.

Most important, however, is a sense of empathy; an ability to appreciate and to some extent share in someone’s feelings, to put yourself in their position and understand their frame of reference.

 


This article was correct at publication on 08/05/2018. It is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.