The SDMA can trace its origins back to the 1880s, with informal meetings between surgical product manufacturers and prominent opinion leaders of the time. Dr Joseph Sampson Gamgee and Florence Nightingale both feature prominently in early records.
The association continued on an informal basis for many years – until 1931, when eighteen gentlemen representing the largest and most influential of British dressing manufacturers met for lunch at the Russell Hotel in London to discuss the supply of raw materials. The formation of the Surgical Dressing Manufacturers Association as a formal association was unanimously decided at that meeting, and the SDMA thus came into being on 4th December 1931. It represented the interests of at first ten, and then twelve, of the leading producers, under the first chairman Victor Robinson.
Initially, the SDMA concerned itself mainly with commercial questions and the supply of raw materials, but the looming threat of World War II galvanised the newly-formed body into action. It was largely due to the SDMA that production of surgical dressings during the Second World War was carried on so efficiently, and that the serious problems of over-capacity which had beset the industry after the First World War, were avoided.
The SDMA has set new aims and objectives for itself many times over the years, but still exists to serve companies who manufacture or distribute wound management and associated products within the British Isles. It has a membership who between them provide a large majority of such products to the NHS. Members range in size from small specialised companies to major multinational organisations – but each has an equal voice regardless of size. One of the great strengths of the SDMA is the inclusive nature of its membership.
Based on an inclusion in the SDMA Minute Book for 1950, which is now held by the Derbyshire Records Office in Matlock