People's History of the NHS

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  • 13
  • MAY

Windrush Season

by Roberta Bivins

'Black Nurses: The Women who Saved the NHS' (c) BBC Four 2016
This week, the People’s History of the NHS team is opening the virtual doors on our Windrush Season, a programme of content and events leading up to this year’s celebration of Windrush Day on 22 June. For those of you who join us online, and who are part of our People’s History team, we will be creating, calling for and sharing new content related to the role of the Windrush Generation and their children and grandchildren in the NHS from the day it opened, 5th July 1948, until the present. We’ll have weekly blogs, a new gallery of beautiful portraits of NHS staff with ties to Windrush, and HOPEFULLY!! lots of new content from all of you. Did you or members of your family come to Britain to work for the NHS? Do you remember people working in your hospital, GP surgery, or other health venue who came to do these vital jobs from abroad? From chefs to porters to clerical staff, managers, cleaners, midwives, nurses and doctors, the NHS has thrived in part because of its international heritage and workforce. As we will see, this heritage is now multigenerational, and we have all benefitted from it!

If you live near the University of Warwick in Coventry, you can also join us IN PERSON: the University and the Modern Records Centre are joining us to host two amazing exhibitions celebrating and exploring the heritage of Windrush for the NHS and for British communities and culture more broadly. The first is #HereToStay, an exhibition of portraits by documentary photographer Inès Elsa Dalal. Alongside it, we have used the fabulous collections of the Modern Records Centre to showcase the many contributions of BAME communities to British Culture across the 20th century. Please join us if you can for our opening event on Saturday 15 June, from 2:00-4:00 in the afternoon. You can register your interest here: https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/history/chm/research/current/nhshistory/heretostay/

The diversity of the NHS has been much celebrated — sometimes in ways that have made it harder to acknowledge and address inequality and bias in the NHS. Equally, the Health Service’s insatiable appetite for international workers has attracted a range of criticisms (Is Britain failing to train enough doctors and nurses to staff the NHS? Is the NHS created a ‘medical brain drain’ from the rest of the world? Are there risks as well as benefits to drawing on medical and therapeutic cultures from around the world?). Whether you work in the NHS, use it as a patient or carer, or worry about it as a vital service and symbol of deeply held values, we want to hear your thoughts, experiences and memories of the Windrush effect in the NHS.

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