The Foundation of Taunton and Somerset Hospital, 1809-1812
by Michael Davidson

Date: Tuesday 23 October 2018

The Foundation of Taunton and Somerset Hospital (1809 – 1812), “A community effort, civic humanism in action”
The Foundation of Taunton and Somerset Hospital, 1809-1812

The Taunton and Somerset Hospital (East Reach) opened in 1812. It was a Voluntary hospital supported by local subscriptions and donations. The talk describes the events around the hospital’s founding within the context of health care and social history of Britain in the early 1800s.

Taunton was a County town with a population of 7,000, yet in a matter of three years they had raised the money to build and support a hospital. We will explore the methods used in the fundraising campaign and the rules by which the institution would provide care to the local community.

Was it typical of voluntary hospitals of the period? Who were the founding committee and were their actions compatible with civic humanism of the post enlightenment period in Britain?

Michael Davidson (B.D.S. (Lond), M.B B.S (Lond), F.D.S R.C.S. (Eng), F.R.C.S. (Edin), D.H.M.S.A.) graduated in Dentistry (1976) and Medicine (1984) from London University.  He was awarded a Fellowship in Dentistry Royal College of Surgeons England (1982) and a Fellowship in Oral Maxillofacial Surgery Edinburgh (1989). After completing higher training in Oral Maxillofacial Surgery he was appointed to the post of Consultant Surgeon at Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust in October 1991, retiring in June 2015.

He was Associate Dental postgraduate Dean for Southwest England 2007- 2015. In 2007 he was elected member of the Board of the Dental Faculty of the Royal College Surgeons of England and was Vice Dean in 2010-11. He took up the post of Council Chairman, British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, in December 2012 and demitted in December 2016. 

Michael has a long-standing interest in the history of medicine.  In 2015 he passed the Diploma in History of Medicine and Pharmacy at the Society of Apothecaries of London. He was the Osler lecturer at the Society of Apothecaries of London for 2016 in recognition of his work on the foundation of Taunton and Somerset Hospital as part of the diploma. He has presented at national and international meetings on medical history topics. His areas of special interest include facial trauma management in the First World War, the British voluntary hospital movement and the Scottish medical diaspora.

He still lives in Somerset with his wife Kathy; they have two children and four grandchildren. He is currently studying for an M. Litt. in Scottish Heritage at Aberdeen University.

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