Migration, the NHS and the RCN
Celebrating the contribution of migrant communities to our health service and College
This year, we celebrate two significant moments in UK history: the 75th anniversaries of the NHS and the arrival of the Windrush generation.
In June 1948, the HMT Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks in England. On board were 1,027 men, women and children hailing from across the Caribbean, as well as Poland. They had been called on by the British government to help the struggling workforce after World War Two.
Just two weeks later, the NHS was formed. Many Windrush passengers took up roles in the NHS, helping to fill 54,000 nursing vacancies. Those first NHS employees faced overt racism and discrimination, and their qualifications were not recognised. But despite these hardships, they became a foundational part of our health service.
Since then, people from around the world have continued to contribute tirelessly to the NHS, making it a diverse and unique national treasure. Without the help of nurses and other staff from around the world, the NHS as we know it could not have survived.
Celebrate with us
Join journalist Gary Younge and a panel of nursing staff and historians to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the NHS and Windrush. This event is part of Migration: a public history festival, a series of lectures, exhibitions, workshops and walks around London.
The event will take place in person at our London RCN offices, and online.
global majority communities
were educated internationally
RCN members making a difference
Learn about the association supporting Caribbean nursing and midwifery staff
The Caribbean Nursing and Midwives Association exists to give a voice to Caribbean health care staff who want to drive improvements in health and social care, education, the nursing and midwifery workforce and policy development.
Together, they tackle inequalities and support members to be the best they can be in their careers.
Meet the member supporting Indian nursing staff
Suresh and his colleague Coumar set up the British Indian Nurses Association to support Indian nurses working in the UK. Through the initiative, nursing staff are encouraged and empowered to progress in their nursing careers.
Meet the member who gave the world's first COVID-19 vaccine
On 8 December 2020 May Parsons, matron at University Hospital Coventry, became the first person in the world to administer a COVID-19 vaccine to a patient outside of clinical trials.
Find out how May, who has worked in the NHS for 20 years since moving to Britain from the Philippines, felt to be part of the historic moment.
Our commitment to international nursing staff and students
Challenging racism at Congress 2023
Lecture: Empire Windrush and NHS 75 – Looking back, moving forward
Watch back this thought-provoking lecture now.
More Congress debates and discussions
RCN Immigration Advice Service
If you're an RCN member and are already in the UK, you can get free, confidential support and assistance on immigration issues.