An ‘Irish connection’ at the Whittington
17 September, 2021
New statue at the Whittington commemorating nurses and midwives who came to the UK as part of the Windrush generation
• REGARDING Islington mayor Troy Gallagher’s September 10 response to the letter (Irish nurses being written out of history of the NHS, August 6), he makes no reference to the period 1948 to 1973, which is the period that the new Whittington statue commemorates.
This is the period that Irish nurses were one of the most prominent migrant groups in Britain and especially at the Whittington Hospital, which was chosen for a major research survey of migrant nurses in Britain.
This hospital was considered to have an Irish connection. It recruited large numbers of Irish nurses and many were prominent in senior positions.
In my research for my recent book Ireland’s Loss – Britain’s Gain: Irish Nurses in Britain – Nightingale to Millennium, the Whittington was a most significant hospital for Irish nurses, many of whom settled locally in an area with a large Irish population.
The history of the Irish nurses’ contribution to the Whittington in that period and beyond also needs acknowledgement.
The Empire Windrush ship has been extensively researched, including occupations of those who were aboard; of 802 Caribbean passengers there was not one nurse listed. However subsequent ships may have had aboard nurses or those intending to nurse.
Mayor Gallagher makes no mention of the council’s local initiatives fund contribution of over £16,000 towards the statue’s cost.