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Campaign honours BAME contribution on NHS Birthday

The Florence Nightingale Foundation (FNF) has released a special collage of BAME nurses and midwives working on the frontline during COVID-19 to mark the 72nd birthday of the NHS, and our very own Nicola Johnson, midwife at Whipps Cross Hospital was selected to take part.

Photo with masks  

Photo without masks

The collection of photos comprising of NHS BAME nurses and midwives, has been created to honour the diversity of the health sector and pay special tribute to the many nationalities that make up the rich cultural tapestry of the NHS. 

Nicola said of her involvement in the campaign: I welcome this platform that the FNF has created in acknowledging, commending and celebrating the significant contribution of BAME staff to the success and longevity of the NHS throughout its 72 year history. 

We wear the mask because we care.

Behind this mask is a midwife.

Proud of my Black heritage.

Proud of my profession.

Proud to be a part of the NHS.

Proud to care."

The Foundation, established in memory of the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale, runs leadership programmes for all NHS and healthcare nurses and midwives. The Foundation is renowned for empowering BAME nurses and midwives. In 2018/19 43% of participants were from a BAME background.

In 2018 the Foundation created the Windrush Leadership Programme, in collaboration with Health Education England, for descendants of the Windrush Generation and other BAME NHS staff. The purpose of the programme is to empower BAME staff and equip them with the skills, knowledge and confidence to pursue senior roles. The Foundation is in the third year of running the popular and heavily oversubscribed programme.

Professor Greta Westwood, CEO of the Florence Nightingale Foundation, pointed out that we mustn’t forget the important role that BAME nurses and midwives had in the creation and hence the history of the NHS, and that we must continue to support and develop them in our health systems.

The BAME nursing and midwifery contribution to the NHS, extends beyond the Windrush Generation. The NHS since its foundation has welcomed nationalities from across the world, actively recruiting a large majority of nurses and midwives from South Asia and the Philippines. 

Professor Greta Westwood said: “The NHS has been built on the shoulders of immigrants and at the Foundation we wanted to celebrate this history with this special photography project. The Nurse Behind the Mask is multicultural – made up of a number of nationalities from across the world, making the NHS so special. The collection of photographs celebrates BAME nurses and midwives who are integrated into the fabric of the NHS.”

“On the birthday of the NHS this Sunday 5 July, the Foundation is encouraging BAME nurses and midwives to share selfies across social media wearing masks, with the hashtag #NurseBehindTheMask or #MidwifeBehindTheMask in celebration of the many nationalities that make up the NHS.”

Yvonne Coghill, Deputy President of the Royal College of Nursing said: “The BAME contribution is an integral part of the NHS – we have seen the sacrifice that people of all races have made since the pandemic started throughout the health service and within the BAME communities they serve. This is the commitment that needs to be commended and celebrated on the 72nd birthday of the NHS.

“The Nurse behind the mask represents all of us and we must never forget all that BAME staff have done for the health service since it was established. All BAME NHS nurses and midwives stand on the shoulders of giants and the many nationalities that came before them.”


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  1. Mary Holland Friday, 3 July 2020 at 04:31 PM

    happy birthday nhs 72 who would think it make still continue to be helpful and very profession
    to patients we meet and greet every day I been here since 1987 and very proud to be part of nhs
    many they continue to with good work mary