Migrant workers and the National Health Service
- The National Health Service (NHS) has relied on an international workforce since its inception due to acute staff shortages.
- Many nurses came from Ireland and the Caribbean to join the NHS workforce from its creation in 1948 onwards, and within a few years, the workforce became much more ethnically diverse, particularly in the cities (NHS England, 2018).
- From 1949, recruitment campaigns were launched to source medical workers and nurses from across the British Empire. Thousands of nurses came from the Caribbean alone – the largest source of NHS recruitment during the post-war years.
- Currently, 200 000 staff in the NHS (a third of doctors and a fifth of all nurses) are from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds.
- The NHS is the largest employer of Black and minority ethnic staff in the UK.
- In 2018, very senior managerial positions in the NHS were staffed by 6.9% ethnic minority staff. However, ethnic minority staff make up 19.1% of the NHS workforce.
NHS England. Blog. 'Windrush and the NHS at 70'. 2018 [Accessed April 2022].