Published on: 11 May 2023

Today (Thursday 11 May), Derbyshire Healthcare welcomed author, Adam Kay, to Kingsway Hospital for a Doctor’s in Distress tree planting ceremony to raise awareness around suicide in healthcare and remember those who have been lost to suicide.

Doctors in Distress is a charity which aims to raise awareness of the unreported area of healthcare worker suicide and the importance of providing mental health support to workers.

The event took place in Derbyshire Healthcare’s memorial garden and was led by the charity and Derbyshire Healthcare’s Chief Executive, Mark Powell, and included a variety of talks on the importance of positive mental health and wellbeing for healthcare colleagues, emphasising why this initiative is so important.

Suicide rates in the healthcare sector are higher than the general population as a result of burnout, anxiety and depression amongst a range of healthcare professions.

The tree planting ceremony is part of a wider mission to remember healthcare workers across the UK to plant a tree in all hospitals across the UK to help prevent suicide from continuing, with Derbyshire Healthcare as the first site to have a tree planted. 

Dr Arun Chidambaram, Medical Director at Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said: “The mental health and wellbeing of colleagues working in all roles across the NHS is hugely important, and we planted this tree today in recognition of the challenges experienced by healthcare professionals and the importance of good mental health to everyone in society.

“As a provider of mental health services, we are committed to supporting Trust colleagues with all aspects of their wellbeing as we know that our work is challenging and the pressures can be significant. That is particularly true when there are safety incidents involving patients, and we have been an early adopter of the new national Patient Safety Incident Response Framework to help develop a just culture and ensure that the focus of any incident investigation is on improving the way we operate as an organisation, not on apportioning blame to individuals.

“As Medical Director, the wellbeing of our medical workforce is of great importance to me and I hope that initiatives like our ‘buddy scheme’ for junior doctors and our Medical Senate – a forum for all doctors – will reduce the sense of isolation amongst members of our medical team and improve morale and wellbeing.”   

 Adam Kay, BAFTA winner, former NHS doctor and author of ‘This is Going to Hurt’, said: “The first step in solving a problem must be in admitting that the problem exists, and this is something I tried to highlight in the BBC adaptation of my book.

“The series culminated in the death by suicide of a doctor called Shruti - a fictional character based on so many tragic stories. In the show, a tree was planted in her memorial, which has led to trees being planted in real-life hospitals to commemorate lost colleagues. I'm very proud to support Doctors in Distress in raising awareness of this vital issue and protecting the mental health of healthcare workers."

Professor Subodh Dave, Dean of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Trustee of Doctors in Distress and a member of the Trust’s medical workforce, said: “As a trustee of Doctors in Distress as well as a consultant psychiatrist within Derbyshire Healthcare, I am really pleased to be associated with this event. 

“Adam Kay highlighted a very real issue with his fictional doctor, Dr Shruti, who took her life in ‘This is Going to Hurt’. Sadly, most people working in the health services will experience the death by suicide of a colleague at some point in their career. 

“Doctors in Distress is working to protect the mental health of all healthcare professionals and to stop suicide.”

To learn more about Doctor’s in Distress, please visit the Doctor’s in Distress webpage.