Dr Lorrette Ffolkes, a Consultant Histopathologist at South West London Pathology (SWLP), featured on a BBC news story about the contribution of the Windrush Generation to the NHS, as part of the NHS’s 75th birthday celebrations.
Dr Ffolkes mother Margaret Ffolkes came to Britain from Jamaica in 1965 to train as a nurse in the NHS. Despite facing discrimination and open racism, Margaret continued to work in the NHS for over 40 years, finally retiring in 2008.
Dr Ffolkes was attracted to a career in healthcare as a young girl when she waited for her mum at the hospital after school. She excelled at the sciences at school and when she finished her first year at A Level, she began to believe that she could become doctor, despite few Black doctors around as role models.
Dr Ffolkes was accepted by every medical school she applied to and was able to begin her career in medicine, continuing her mother’s leg. As she reflects on in the BBC piece, her mother was delighted when Dr Ffolkes took up her first consultant post at St George’s Hospital, which was a source of great pride both for Margaret and within the Jamaican community.
Dr Ffolkes hopes to inspire other young Black doctors, and in particular those with Caribbean heritage. She says ‘Whilst the NHS workforce is very diverse, there is little representation of Black Caribbeans within senior hospital roles. This has improved during my career as a doctor and I hope to see this continue’.