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Black Nurses: The Woman who Saved the NHS

Maroon Productions2016

Black Cultural Archives

Black Cultural Archives

The arrival of the SS Empire Windrush at Tilbury docks, London, in June 1948 has come to symbolise the founding moment of modern, black British history.

It coincided with the passing of the British Nationality Act 1948, which gave right of entry to the ‘mother country’ to the entire population of the colonies. It was hoped this would help hold Britain’s crumbling Empire together.

What happened next took the authorities by surprise. Over the next decade and a half, more than a quarter of a million black British citizens came from the Caribbean.

Most of the immigrants quickly found a job. It wasn't just that people from the Commonwealth wanted to come to Britain. In truth Britain needed them.

Not least for the newly founded NHS. Right from the start it would employ thousands of the new migrants – many of them women.

Some would endure racism from the very people they had travelled thousands of miles to care for. But many of ‘the Windrush generation’ stayed, building lives here and making Britain the country it is today.

This photo was taken for Black Nurses: The Women Who Saved the NHS, a BBC documentary which tells the story of the thousands of Caribbean and African women who answered the call of the ‘mother country’ 70 years ago to come to the UK to save the health service.

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