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Windrush - Past and present

Today is Windrush Day, a time to shed light on and celebrate the contributions of the British-Caribbean community and those who travelled to the UK after the Second World War. The Windrush generation had a significant part to play in the success of the emerging NHS, and the ongoing commitment of British-Caribbean healthcare professionals to the workforce today cannot be understated.

On this day we honour the valuable impact of registrants from overseas to the health and social care workforce. Around 20% of the NHS workforce in England is from a black, Asian or ethnic minority (BAME) background. However, this is also an important time to remind ourselves of the ongoing inequalities; and to ask ourselves as individuals, as well as organisations, what we are doing to address them.

In the professional health and social care sector, the number of BAME people in senior positions is disproportionately low. The impact of Covid-19 hit BAME healthcare staff hardest. There is evidence that in some sectors, such as nursing and among doctors, BAME professionals are over-represented in fitness to practise cases. We see a number of cases where registrants have been abused by patients as a result of their ethnicity, and in others, registrants have been racist to patients and colleagues. We have referred cases to the courts where we consider that the panels have not taken such behaviour seriously enough. The courts have not always agreed with us, but this will not stop us doing our best to ensure that the public and registrants who are from this generation and from other ethnicities are properly protected from racist abuse and harassment.

It is our role to protect the public, including registrants and patients. Last year we set up an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) working group to make sure that we are informed in our work in overseeing the performance of the regulators. Since then, with the help of an expert consultant, we have undergone an audit of our work in this area, as well as our internal processes and culture.