After the second world war, Britain’s need for nurses became huge. The exploited National Health Service that we have today was formed in 1948, and despite the nation’s reliance on the NHS throughout decades, there is still a lack of respect and appreciation given to nurses – especially black and brown nurses.
The discrimination and racism these nurses have received since they first arrived in Great Britain in the 1950s is a complete representation of the unbalanced power relationship the British Empire had with their colonies. In effect, the British government has managed to preserve their interest and money by using capitalism as a tool to freely and unapologetically exploit, exclude and diminish black and brown nurses in the NHS.
Upon arrival to Britain, black and brown women were under the assumption that even though they migrated for better opportunities and lifestyles, their work and expertise were needed and would be valued. Post-war trauma led to an increase in psychiatric hospitals where most of these women were working. In 1954 there were over 3,000 nurses from overseas working in the UK. This number jumped to more than 6,000 in 1959, and ten years later there were more than 16,000. Despite the ignorant assumption that all these nurses who migrated were poor, many of them were middle-class and educated people, yet had themselves been redefined as they were classed as ‘black’ and working-class once settled in Britain.