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Reflecting on 75 years since the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush

2023 marks 75 years since the arrival of the HMT Empire Windrush to the United Kingdom, an event that coincided with the creation of the social care system and the birth of the NHS. During this period, we’ll be reflecting on how the health and care system has changed over the past 75 years and the contributions made – and challenges faced – by the Windrush generation and their descendants working in the NHS and social care.

HMT Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks on 22 June 1948, bringing with it several hundred passengers from across the British colonies in the Caribbean.

The arrival of the ship and its passengers is often seen as the start of a wave of migration from the West Indies to the UK. The Windrush generation helped Britain recover from the impact of the Second World War, filling jobs in the postal and transport systems, as well as the newly founded NHS.

The Windrush generation and their descendants have played a vital role in the running and development of the health and social care system. Despite this contribution, NHS staff surveys repeatedly show that real progress isn’t being made in diversity and inclusion.

As part of our work for the Windrush anniversary, we’ve heard from Caribbean NHS staff experiencing barriers to career progression, access to training and development and discrimination.

Our work on Windrush

You called and we came: Windrush and the NHS

Hear stories from the Windrush generation and their descendants on their experiences of working in the NHS in our online exhibition.

Explore more of this history through the articles, online resources and publications featured on this page.

Windrush 75: reflecting on the contributions of generations to the NHS

Additionally, to mark 75th anniversary of the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush, Sally Warren and other panelists celebrated the significant contribution Caribbean and Ethnic Minority staff make to the health and care system.

Watch the online event below to explore:

  • the persistent trends in the lived experience of working in the NHS of the Windrush generations and their descendants

  • the disproportionate disparities in employment and working conditions faced by black, Asian and ethnic minority staff

  • the UK’s continued heavy reliance on international recruitment to plug health and care workforce gaps.