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The Socialist Medical Association (since 1980 the Socialist Health Association) was founded in 1930 to campaign from within the Labour Party for a National Health Service in the United Kingdom.


The Socialist Medical Association was founded in 1930 and absorbed many of those who had been active in the State Medical Service Association which collapsed as a result.[1] The inaugural meeting was convened by Charles Wortham Brook, a doctor with links to the Labour Party who was a member of the London County Council (LCC) during the period when the LCC developed its municipal hospitals. Brook was the first Secretary of the Association, remaining in office until 1938.[2]

Many of those involved in the Association volunteered for the Spanish Medical Aid Committee in the Spanish Civil War.[3]

Somerville Hastings was founder President of the Socialist Medical Association (SMA) 1930-51. He served in the Royal Army Medical Corps during the First World War, followed by work as an aural surgeon at the Middlesex Hospital. He was a Member of the London County Council for fourteen years.[4]

In 1945 there were nine members of the association in the House of Commons. They hoped to influence the plans for the development of the National Health Service (NHS). There were communications with Aneurin Bevan but his relations with the group were not particularly close.[5] The Association was keen to press for doctors to be salaried and work full-time in health centres. They wanted teaching hospitals to be integrated into the regional hospital organisations and criticised the segmentation of the service as a barrier to integrated services.[6]

The association was active in campaigns against NHS charges, smoking and tuberculosis, and for adequate nutrition, the establishment of health centres and salaried general practitioners.[7] It is associated with the campaigns against health inequality.[8]

It attempted to build an international movement. In October 1962 David Stark Murray went to the University of Chicago to talk to students about the fight for socialized medicine.[9]

It changed its name in May 1981 to the Socialist Health Association to reflect increased interest in public health.[10] It is a socialist society affiliated to the Labour Party.

It was active in the campaign against the Health and Social Care Act 2012.[11]

Alex Scott-Samuel, a public health physician and retired lecturer in public health at the University of Liverpool, was elected Chair in 2017. On behalf of the Association he proposed a resolution at the 2017 Labour Party Conference confirming Labour's opposition to Tory policies for the NHS in England and calling for the reinstatement of the NHS 'as per the NHS reinstatement Bill'. It was carried unanimously.[12]


Notable membersEdit


  1. ^ The Socialist Medical Association and the Foundation of the NHS
  2. ^ "Dr Charles Wortham Brook CBE 1901-1983". 6 November 1983. Retrieved 2016-09-13.
  3. ^ "A pledge to remember Oxford's Spanish Civil War volunteers". Oxford Mail. 14 March 2014. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  4. ^ "Somerville Hastings". Socialist Health Association. Retrieved 4 August 2019.
  5. ^ Webster, Charles (1988). The Health Services since the War. London: HMSO. p. 79. ISBN 0116309423.
  6. ^ Webster, Charles (1988). The Health Services since the War. London: HMSO. p. 89. ISBN 0116309423.
  7. ^ "Health Centres: the next step". Socialist Medical Association. 1975. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  8. ^ Conway, David (May–June 2009). "Sick times, sick people". Scottish Left Review (52). Retrieved 5 September 2019.CS1 maint: date format (link)
  9. ^ "Can Sanders' civil rights experience at U. of C. translate on campaign trail?". Chicago Tribune. 26 August 2015. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  10. ^ "Spartacus Educational". Spartacus. Archived from the original on 2014-03-20. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
  11. ^ "The dangers of marketisation". Health Service Journal. 23 January 2013. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
  12. ^ "Momentous progress at the Labour Party Conference". Keep Our NHS Public. 10 October 2017. Retrieved 20 February 2019.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit