Empire, migration and the NHS
in Migrant architects of the NHS
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Chapter 2 connects the history of the NHS to the history of the British empire and post-war migration. The arrival in Britain of the South Asian medical graduates who became GPs was the product of a very specific post-imperial context that existed in the forty years following the establishment of the NHS. The post-war migration of doctors was not a spontaneous or new phenomenon-it is linked to the long history of British medicine in South Asia and is an amplification of longstanding imperial flows of doctors to Britain. Medicine on the Indian subcontinent had been fundamentally shaped by its imperial past. Conversely, in a growing NHS, their labour offered a solution to the staffing needs of the new organisation, particularly in junior posts, in unpopular specialties and in industrial areas. There was a time lag between the formal end of empire and the dismantling of its legacies such as the freedom of doctors to move to Britain and their ability to gain recognition for their qualifications. This explains how between the 1940s and the 1980s South Asian doctors came to take on such an important role in the British healthcare system.

Migrant architects of the NHS

South Asian doctors and the reinvention of British general practice (1940s– 1980s)

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