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Michael Frampton is a Fee-paid Medical Member of the First-tier Tribunal, War Pensions and Armed Forces Compensation Chamber. He is an ear, nose and throat specialist who served for 17 years in the Royal Navy, including spells on submarines, before working as an NHS consultant for 23 years. He retired from that role in 2012.
Judicial appointment. What happened next?
Michael updates us on how he's been getting on in his role.
"I've been in this role for two and a half years now. I'm delighted to say that I enjoy the role more and more as time goes on. It's a lovely collegiate tribunal with the lawyers, service members and doctors all working really well together.
"One of the things I enjoy the most is the breadth of the medical cases I see. As a doctor I'm assessing people not just with the ENT clinical conditions which I was trained to treat but I'm also seeing people with psychiatric conditions and orthopaedic conditions. I find this range of cases really keeps my brain ticking over.
"I'm impressed by the tribunal's commitment to learning and development. Once a year all the tribunal members get together for training events and I thoroughly enjoy the interaction with people from other specialities. We all contribute a lot to each other's ongoing education."
Michael Frampton case study. We first spoke to him just after his appointment as fee-paid medical member. We asked about his experience of the selection process and his first impressions of the role.
"I first became aware of the role through a friend who is on the tax tribunal and she showed me the vacancy on the JAC website. She thought I seemed to meet all the requirements for the role with my background as a retired NHS ear, nose and throat surgeon and former member of the Royal Naval Medical Service.
"I was appointed in October 2013 and have already sat on the tribunal five times. I have found it very stimulating, and enjoyable if you can use that word. There is a great camaraderie between those I've worked with so far. When I was appointed I made the decision that I would stop the medico-legal work I had been doing since I retired from the NHS in 2012. I wanted to be able to be available for this role.
"I found the initial application form stage fairly painless – it was all electronic and it was very straightforward. Having been on the other side of the table for the past 30 years, being the interviewee was unfamiliar and I found the interview a surprisingly traumatic experience. The interview didn't just test my judgement, I also had to work through a medically and legally complex case, interpreting the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme and how it could be applied to arrive at a figure for compensation. I had downloaded the papers for this test case to read in advance so I was prepared, but it was the set questions that surprised me as they seemed more appropriate to a surgical registrar applying for a first consultant post than to an experienced 61 year old; I left the JAC convinced I had blown the whole thing.
"I would recommend that other applicants expect the unexpected at the interview stage. The process is certainly thorough and more than 'a friendly chat across the table' and 'a bit of a formality' – which I believe may have been the case in the past. I would also recommend a good night's sleep the night before; I travelled down to London on a very early train on the day of my interview and with the benefit of hindsight, I should have stayed at a hotel in London so that I felt fresher and more relaxed when I arrived at the JAC.
"This appointment is definitely one I would recommend warmly to my contemporaries, especially those who have served in the Forces who are also doctors. It was interesting that of the 10 doctors appointed at the same time, most had some insight into Service life, not necessarily serving themselves but having some past experience of the Reserve Forces, or as members of Forces families.
"During my training and at the tribunal I have met many like-minded people who feel as I do that having worked for myself for the last 40 years it's nice to be doing something for other people; I know that doctors always try to help people, but this is slightly different as it is not done to pay the mortgage."
This case study also features in the JAC Annual Report 2013-14.