Somerville Hastings

Founder President of the Socialist Medical Association (SMA) 1930-51 Somerville Hastings led the organisation for the first 25 years. His career combined medical and political expertise. He was an aural surgeon at the Middlesex Hospital and also a Member of the London County Council and Chairman of its Hospitals and Medical Services Committee at a time when the LCC was developing its municipal health services and hospitals.  He was a Member of Parliament  first for Reading and later for Barking. He was the first doctor ever to be a delegate to the Labour Party Conference and spoke in the 1934 debate on the Labour Party programme “For Socialism and Peace” which committed the party to the establishment of a State Health Service.  He was also a keen botanist and photographer.

Somerville Hastings MP
Somerville Hastings MP

An account and appreciation of Hastings contributions can be found in “Why a National Health Service?”, at Healthcare in Hackney,  and in Socialist Proposals for Health Reform in Inter-War Britain: the Case of Somerville Hastings.


Aneurin Bevan: An appreciation of his services to the health of the people 1960

A National Service for Health 1948

Hospital Management in Peace and War 1944

The Development of the Health Services 1943


From Panel to Public Service 1940

The Evolution of a State Medical Service 1935

Can we Afford to Leave the Nation’s Health to Private Enterprise 1931

The Future of Medical Practice in England 1928

Labour, the Children’s Champion  1923

First Aid for the Trenches 1917

Summer Flowers Of The High Alps 1910

Alpine Plants At Home 1908

Toadstools at Home 1907  60 photographs from nature

Wild Flowers at Home 1906