President's Appeal

In her final appeal as President of the RMBF, Professor Dame Parveen Kumar DBE asks for your help to ensure every doctor has somewhere to turn in a crisis

Professor Dame Parveen Kumar DBEDear colleagues and friends,

This is my final appeal on behalf of the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund, and I would like to thank you for the support you have given me and the RMBF over the last seven years. It is only due to you, and generations of previous supporters, that the RMBF can be here to provide all doctors and their families with the support they need in grave circumstances.

Until I became President, I was unaware of the sheer hardship that some of our colleagues are suffering due to mental and physical ill health. When I think back to the early days of my career, although I remember it being really tough, I was lucky to have invaluable support from my fellow juniors and consultants. We worked as a team. I can’t imagine how different things might have been without that camaraderie and friendship forged on the firm system and in the mess. It is therefore particularly heart-rending to hear, at the RMBF Grants & Awards Committee meetings, that so many doctors and medical students are not only struggling with real hardship, but doing so whilst feeling terribly isolated.

Helen, a recent RMBF beneficiary, has kindly allowed me to share her story. Just two months into her first role as a Foundation Year doctor, Helen had a relapse of Crohn’s disease requiring extensive surgery and a long recuperation.

It was terrifying to hear it would be at least six months before I could return to work, without having time to build up savings or get insurance as someone with a long-term illness. I can’t put into words how much of a difference it made knowing I wouldn’t just receive support from the RMBF for the here and now, but throughout my recovery.


For the first couple of years in training, you can be particularly vulnerable. There is more pressure, more stress, and you don’t want to show weakness. All the while, you are rotating which makes things particularly difficult. With the RMBF, it felt like there was someone external there who could help and would listen. They gave me the security for six months to focus on getting better, and it’s essentially thanks to the charity that I’m now back on track and have returned to work and training. It makes me feel much more supported just knowing the RMBF is there.

Helen, RMBF beneficiary

At a time when many of the old support structures in the profession have fallen away, acts of kindness from colleagues looking out for each other are so very important. Every donation to the RMBF enables us to step in with kindness and compassion when things take a real turn for the worse.

I would be most grateful if you would consider donating to my last President’s Appeal. The RMBF is such a wonderful charity, and it has been an enormous privilege to have served as its President.

I wish you all the very best for 2020 and the future.

Thank you all so much,