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22.06.20

Sir Simon Stevens pays tribute to Windrush generation

NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens has marked Windrush Day 2020 by paying tribute to the “essential contribution” of the Windrush generation to the health service and hoping to use the day not just to appropriately remember past efforts, but also serve as a catalyst for future change.

Windrush Day was introduced in 2018 as an annual day, observed on June 22, to honour the British Caribbean community.

On the 72nd anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush in 1948, carrying migrants from the Caribbean to England, the NHS is marking the contribution of staff from more than 200 nationalities who have played a critical part in the shaping of the healthcare service – and who remain a crucial part of our NHS workforce today.

Given the arrival of the Windrush came only a fortnight ahead of the founding of the NHS, the anniversaries this year have taken on a focus towards driving practical changes to support BAME staff and patients. These efforts have coincided with the founding of a new Health and Race Observatory, which has been established to offer practical changes in working practices and standards, building on the work achieved by the NHS’ Workforce Race Equality Standard.

Speaking from Windrush Square in Brixton, Sir Simon Stevens said: “Today not only marks an important moment for millions of families across the nation, but also for our health service.

“Many of those who came to this country shortly after the war, on ships such as the Windrush, helped nourish the NHS in its early years, and became an integral part of its success.

“So, it’s right to take a moment to look back at this contribution with pride, while also confronting the reality that their dedication and service has not always been recognised, respected or rewarded.

“Fast forwarding to today, there is increasing evidence that longstanding inequalities are now being magnified and worsened by the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on our black, Asian and minority ethnic patients, friends and colleagues.

“So Windrush Day this year has to serve not only as a reminder of our history, but as a catalyst for urgent action to tackle racism and discrimination wherever it is to be found.”

Main Image Credit: Aaron Chown/PA Wire/PA Images

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