Debt and Financial Difficulties
With the ever increasing pressures on general practice, doctors may find themselves in financial difficulties due to illness, family pressures and other unexpected life events. Seeking help for financial difficulties can be difficult – partly due to the perception that doctors are ‘high earners’ and also due to not being aware of the help that is available.
Doctors may find themselves facing financial hardship due to being unable to work as a result of stress, mental health difficulties or physical illness – to name a few. It is common for doctors to face difficulty affording professional subscriptions such as GMC fees, indemnity and professional exams. Financial hardship and debt can feel lonely and overwhelming, but there is no situation that does not have a solution with the right support however bleak things may seem.
Did you know most professional subscriptions such as GMC fees, RCGP and BMA can be paid at a lower rate if your income is low for whatever reason? Contact individual services to see if you qualify.
If you are a practice facing financial challenges, you can contact the LMC for advice and support on 0115 9771341.
If you are an individual doctor facing financial difficulty there are a number of organisations that specifically support doctors in financial difficulty.
Help me, I’m a Doctor is a very useful resource which will direct you to which organisation is most suited to your needs and may be able to offer financial assistance.
Debt and mental health
There is no doubt that debt and financial worries can have a significant negative impact on mental health. See our section on mental health for further advice and support on managing mental health difficulties.
Dr Stephen Linton talks more about the Cameron Fund and the help it offers in this article
Financial support for doctors & families
- Royal Medical Foundation
The RMF offers assistance to registered doctors and their families who are in financial hardship. Practical assistance is given in three ways:
- Provision of regular payments to their widows, widowers and their children
- Provision of one-off grants when emergency help is required
- In exceptional circumstances, we can provide assistance with school fees for sons or daughters of registered doctors enabling them to maintain educational stability at times of distress caused by illness, bereavement or financial need in their family’
- Society for Assistance of medical families
Society for assistance of medical families, offers assistance to members in the first instance but utilises surplus funds to assist non-members.
Examples of help offered by the society includes retraining and reskilling, support to medical students and the children of doctors studying other courses to enable them to undertake their education and widow/er and family support following death.
- Royal Medical Benevolent Fund
Financial support and/or Debt Management Advice if you’re unable to work and have little in the way of income or savings.
- The Cameron Fund
The Cameron Fund is the only service that solely supports GPs and their families in times of financial hardship and need – whether through ill-health, disability, death or loss of employment.
- BMA Charities
‘The BMA Charities can help all doctors and medical students in times of need. You do not need to be a BMA member to apply. The Fund can provide one-off grants to doctors and their dependents for specific items in times of crisis. It provides:
- Annual grants to medical students who are taking medicine as a second degree. Application packs for these grants are only available from November to mid-January each year.
- One-off grants to medical students who are in immediate and serious financial need
- One-off grants to unemployed doctors for essential items such as utility bills, travel and disability equipment
- One-off grants to working doctors in financial hardship for help with the GMC retention fee and professional indemnity insurance.
- Grants to refugee and asylum-seeking doctors to meet the costs of taking the PLAB exams and GMC registration
- Money advice for any doctor who is having difficulty managing financially’
- The Dain Fund
The Fund is part of the BMA Charities (you do not need to be a BMA member) and helps with the education and support of doctors’ children when there are financial problems in the family.
In most of the families helped the parents are out of work or on a very low income. The Fund particularly welcomes applications from refugee doctors.
Grants are made for items such as school clothing, school trips, essential IT equipment, disability equipment, breakfast clubs and, occasionally, short-term school fees, however, the fund is unable to help with childcare costs for working doctors.
- Help me, I’m a Doctor is a very useful resource which will direct you to which organisation is most suited to your needs and may be able to offer financial assistance.
Other Sources of Help
- Martin Lewis has a useful page that offers support, signposting and information for management of debt. View this here.
- Business Debtline
Free debt advice for small businesses and self employed in England and Wales, offers webchat and telephone support
- Debtors Anonymous
This is a twelve-step programme for anyone who wants to stop incurring unsecured debt.
If you feel anxious when bills arrive, lack control over your spending and are unable to save – this organisation offers support and encourages careful record keeping and monitoring of finances – including purchases, income, and debt payments – so that you get a clearer picture of your spending habits. This information is used to develop healthier spending practices, supporting you in keeping a reasonable quality of life while still repaying debt. Similarly, DA recommends developing plans for the future to increase your income. There is currently no local East Midlands meeting but it is possible to access meetings via Skype.
- National Debtline
Free telephone or web chat debt advice and free debt solutions. 0808 808 4000
- Step Change
Free online debt advice charity with some useful online tools to help deal with debt and the associated stress
- Christians Against Poverty
Christians Against Poverty specialises in offering free emotional help and support with managing debt – there is no religious focus.
- Money Advice Service
Debt advice, support and online tools to manage money and debt
Turn2us is an national charity heping people when times get tough. They provide financial support to help people get back on track and help you find the support and information you need to access the money you are missing out on.