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Roberta Bivins

Contagious Communities: Medicine, Migration, and the NHS in Post-War Britain

Hay Festival 2016, 

It was only a coincidence that the NHS and the Empire Windrush, a ship carrying 492 migrants from Britain’s West Indian colonies, arrived together. On 22 June 1948, as the ship’s passengers disembarked, frantic preparations were already underway for 5 July, the Appointed Day when the nation’s new National Health Service would first open its doors. The relationship between immigration and the NHS rapidly attained, and has enduringly retained, huge political and cultural significance. The Warwick University historian interrogates and re-balances the political history of Britain’s response to immigration. Her current Wellcome Trust-funded work develops a People’s Encyclopaedia of the NHS and a Virtual Museum of the NHS. Chaired by Rosie Boycott.