On 22 June 1948, the former German cruise liner Empire Windrush arrived in the UK, carrying 492 passengers from the West Indies.
Mainly former service personnel, this was the first wave of post war immigration with many of the passengers taking up roles in the NHS, which launched just two weeks later.
The journey of the early black and minority ethnic (BME) colleagues in the NHS, and in British society, was not an easy one. Faced with overt racism, discrimination and public outcry, they were not always welcome. The same experiences were faced by those that followed over the next few decades.
Today, people of BME backgrounds make up almost a quarter of the NHS workforce, and still face challenges and inequalities.
As part of our plans to mark the NHS’s 70th birthday, we are celebrating the 70th anniversary of Windrush and diversity of the NHS workforce, from the Windrush generation of 1948, the south Asian arrivals in the 1960s and 70s, to today’s workforce, currently represented by 202 nationalities.
Our celebrations include the Windrush 70 Awards.