History of the Cameron Fund

Doctor and his family.
We have been helping GPs and their families for over 40 years.

Why The Cameron Fund?

Sir James Cameron, Chairman of the General Medical Services Committee of the BMA in 1970, persuaded the Government to transfer money, left over from a scheme to help GPs finance practice premises, to a new charity which would support GPs and their dependants in times of poverty, hardship and distress. Sir James consented to the charity being named after him and acted as a trustee for many years, until just before his death in 1991.

History of The Cameron Fund

In the early 1960s, general practice was in dire straits: workload was heavy; earnings were poor; establishing, maintaining and improving GP premises was difficult and financially crippling; GP Assistants felt badly used; general practice was unattractive and recruitment poor.

In 1964, at a Special Conference of LMCs, Dr James Cameron was elected Chairman of the GMSC (General Medical Services Committee), now the General Practitioners Committee (GPC).  Jim Cameron proved to be arguably the most successful Chairman of the GMSC.

Jim Cameron negotiated a new contract for GPs which greatly improved their lot. Following its implementation in 1966, he recalled a comment by an official concerning £800,000 lying dormant in the Group Practice Loan Fund.  This fund had been set up by government in the late 1950s to encourage GPs to practice in groups from purpose-built premises.  It had been created to make interest free loans to doctors wishing to build their own group practice premises.  Skilfully, government arranged for the fund to be serviced by a deduction of £100,000 a year from the sum allocated for the remuneration of GPs.  Jim Cameron persuaded government that the £800,000 should be returned to GPs to be used to found a charitable trust.

The 1970 Conference of LMCs resolved that a charitable trust be set up to provide “the relief of poverty, sickness or distress” for GPs, retired GPs and dependents of GPs and that "the name Cameron be included in the title of the charitable trust in recognition of the outstanding contribution to general practice made by the (then) chairman of the GMSC.

The first Council of Management was elected by the Conference and comprised representatives from Scotland, Wales and English constituencies.  The Fund was established by October 1970, with Dr B Holden as its first Chairman of Trustees.  The first operational year began in April 1971. In his first annual report, Dr Holden stated that 82 awards had been made and the sum of £26,000 disbursed as grants and loans. 25% of the applications were initiated by Local Medical Committees. In the early years, many of the beneficiaries were GPs (or their dependents) who had retired soon after the start of the NHS and had very little in the way of pension provision.

Recently the rules of the Fund have been updated. Among other changes, Northern Ireland has been included and the eligibility criteria have been widened to include registrars/trainees. The Fund has modernised itself and invested in up-to-date technology.  Over time, the status of beneficiaries has changed. Now the Fund is helping younger GPs, struck down by injury or illness and others who have lost their living, by having been deemed unfit to practice, due to mental illness or poor performance.

In 40 years, the Fund has had only seven Chairman, but the stars over recent years are past treasurers. £800,000 in 1970 money translates as £2,627,200 now, but the Fund's assets are valued at much more.  However disbursements to beneficiaries increase year-on-year and every penny of the Fund's assets is needed to provide the income to service grants and interest-free loans to beneficiaries.  Without the generous donations from Local Medical Committees, individual doctors, those attending the Annual Conference Dinner and legacies, the Fund would be unable to meet the demand for help.

The primary aims and objectives of the Fund remain unchanged and today's Trustees are as watchful as ever to ensure assets are protected and that applicants in genuine need are given appropriate help promptly.

The Cameron Fund's Funds

The funds secured by Sir James Cameron have been invested and the income covers approximately half our annual expenditure. The other half comes from donations primarily from Local Medical Committees and also from individuals. Without substantial donations, we would need to use our capital to continue the work that we do.