The NHS has been characterised by its diverse workforce since its inception in 1948 – the year when passengers of HMT Empire Windrush disembarked at the Port of Tilbury on 22 June.

Many of those passengers took up roles within the NHS, becoming an integral part of its history and making an immeasurable contribution to improving healthcare in the UK over the next 72 years.

Around 20% of its NHS workforce is now made up of colleagues from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, as international recruitment has continued to attract talented nurses and midwives from all over the world. Today over 200 plus nationalities work in the NHS.

Although we have come a long way as a service and as a society, 2020 has been a year that has created plenty of opportunities for reflection.

Whether it has been in seeing how the pandemic has disproportionately affected BAME communities or how the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement reacted to global events, a spotlight has undoubtedly been shone on the need for us all to do more.

And while we have so much to celebrate about the rich diversity of our people and the region we serve, it remains clear that we must continue to do all we can to address inequalities for the sake of both our patients and our colleagues alike.

Watch the NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens speaking in Windrush Square, Britxton, for the 72nd anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush.