Reflecting on 75 years since the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush

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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.

Reflecting on 75 years

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

Empire 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.

Title:  •	Title: Acting with intent: Chief Nurse, Karen Bonner, on diversity and belonging in the NHS. Graphic on the right represents belonging and collaboration in the NHS workforce.

Acting with intent: Chief Nurse, Karen Bonner, on diversity and belonging in the NHS

How can we ensure that health and care staff from all backgrounds feel respected, valued and listened to at work? Siva Anandaciva sits down with Karen Bonner, Chief Nurse.

How it it's going: The experience of migrants and people from ethnic minority backgrounds working in the NHS

Blog: How it started... how it's going

Shilpa Ross considers the experiences of staff from ethnic minority groups in the newly formed NHS and the NHS of today and asks why, in the intervening years, so little has changed.

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.

Read more

Celebrating 75 years: social care, the NHS and Windrush

Reflecting on 75 years of social care - elderly couple sat in comfortable chairs

75 years of social care

The National Assistance Act came into force in 1943, marking the start of the social care system as we know it. Through a blog series and podcast episode, we examine the history of social care and the challenges it's facing today.