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Synopsis: International Health Service is a short film directed Emmy and BAFTA-nominated documentary filmmaker Ursula Macfarlane and produced by Sonita Gale. It is a thank you to the UK’s National Health Service and its migrant workers after a very long and difficult year during the pandemic.

In 2020, the NHS truly showed the country how essential they are to the health and well-being of this country. Unfortunately, they are not always valued in a way that reflects this, and given the fact that many of their staff come from outside the UK, their contributions to our country have been further minimised – indeed, this short was filmed during a period when an anti-immigrant narrative continued to grow in the UK.

International Health Service celebrates the international character of the organisation, and is a way for us to express our deep gratitude to the thousands of health care workers who put their lives at risk to help us on a daily basis





Run Time

4 minutes

Directed by

Ursula Macfarlane

Produced by

Sonita Gale

Edited by

Luke Flight


Neil Harvey

Director's Statement

Amidst my growing despair about the increasingly hostile environment the UK has created for immigrant workers, I wanted us to take a moment to show appreciation to the 170,000 NHS workers who have come here from countries across the globe. Many of them have arrived at a time when politicians boast of the end of free movement, dismissing many key workers as ‘unskilled.’

Our film is a tribute to these dedicated workers, told through individual portraits, unflinching about the negativity many face, but celebrating their desire to help us and offer hope in what, today, seems like the frontline in a gruelling war.

Director's Bio

Emmy and BAFTA-nominated director Ursula Macfarlane is known for making films which combine the epic with the intimate. Her short, International Health Service, made with producer Sonita Gale during lockdown, is a response to the ugly anti-immigration narrative that has been growing in Britain over the past few years. We wanted, in a spare and simple film, to show and celebrate the huge contribution that migrant workers make to our health service, particularly as we enter a new, dangerous wave of the virus.

Ursula’s latest feature documentary, The Lost Sons for CNN Films, a stranger-than-fiction story about a stolen baby, premiered at the 2021 SXSW film festival; her feature documentary Untouchable, about the rise and fall of Harvey Weinstein, premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Her films have been shown in many territories and include Breaking Up With The Joneses, a feature documentary about a couple going through a divorce, One Deadly Weekend In America, about young lives cut short through gun violence, The Life and Loss Of Karen Woo, a film about a young doctor murdered by the Taliban in Afghanistan, and Charlie Hebdo: Three Days That Shook Paris, the story of the Paris terror attacks. Her films attract large audiences, major awards and nominations and stellar reviews.

Production Year


Official Website



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