Celebrating Windrush Day

17 June 2024

Read more about how we marked Windrush Day across the Trust

Sunday 22 June marks National Windrush Day, a day to celebrate the outstanding contribution of Caribbean people to the UK, particularly in shaping the NHS into what it is today.

Seventy-six years ago, the British government called on the Caribbean people to help address labour shortages caused by World War II. Approximately 1,072 migrants arrived at Tilbury Docks in Essex from the Caribbean. Many of those who left their homes were ex-servicemen who had fought alongside the UK in the Second World War and had been invited to Britain to support the post-war efforts to rebuild the country.

Although invited to work in the UK, nurses and midwives from the Caribbean received a very hostile reception. Upon arrival, they faced numerous challenges, including racism and discrimination. There were also barriers to housing, with many room adverts explicitly stating: “Sorry, no blacks.”

The qualifications obtained in the Caribbean were not recognised, and they were enrolled in State Enrolled Nurse (SEN) training rather than State Registered Nurse (SRN) training. They were also not allowed to share rooms with white nurses.

Today, we celebrate the outstanding contribution of Caribbean people to the UK in making the NHS what it is to this day. The generation of nurses from the Caribbean has paved the way for the second and third generations of BME nurses and midwives in the NHS today. People of Caribbean heritage continue to make up a significant proportion of today’s workforce, and their legacy is firmly rooted in the NHS.

We would like to acknowledge, recognise and give thanks for the huge contribution the Windrush generation has made to the NHS.