Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

NHS suicides ‘brushed under carpet’, BBC show creator says as memorial unveiled

Doctor and best-selling author Adam Kay (right), plants a tree at Ealing Hospital, west London, in commemoration of NHS staff who have taken their own lives (Yui Mok/PA)
Doctor and best-selling author Adam Kay (right), plants a tree at Ealing Hospital, west London, in commemoration of NHS staff who have taken their own lives (Yui Mok/PA)

Suicides among NHS staff are being “brushed under the carpet”, the creator of BBC series This Is Going To Hurt has warned as he unveiled the first national memorial to health workers.

Adam Kay, a former junior doctor who based the hit show on his memoir of the same name, planted a long-awaited tribute tree at Ealing Hospital, west London, on Thursday.

The Shruti tree is named after the character Shruti Acharya, a student doctor who took her life in the series, which drew millions of viewers on BBC One in February.

Mr Kay joined NHS leaders, charities and bereaved families to plant the first official memorial, after an estimated 300 nurses died by suicide in the seven years to 2017.

A plaque next to the tree said: “In memory of healthcare professionals who have died by suicide. Take care of those who take care of others.”

NHS staff tree planting ceremony
Adam Kay based his hit book and TV series on diaries he wrote while working as a junior doctor (Yui Mok/PA)

More than 220 nurses attempted to end their lives during the first year of Covid in 2020, according to the Laura Hyde Foundation, which saw a 550% rise in demand for clinical mental health support from medical staff in 2020,

The charity, set up in memory of Navy nurse Laura Hyde, said that two healthcare workers die by suicide every week on average, while a doctor takes their own life once every three weeks.

Mr Kay told the PA news agency at the ceremony: “Suicide simply is not spoken about and in my experience, sadly, sometimes even the staff don’t know, it’s simply brushed under the carpet. We need to talk about this openly and honestly.”

In a speech to a crowd gathered in front of the sapling, the comedy writer added: “I’m sad to say we’ve failed a lot of these medical professionals and I hope this is a turning point.”

Exterior shots for This Is Going To Hurt were filmed at Ealing Hospital, where Mr Kay previously worked until he wrote his diaries, and many fans have visited the site hoping to find a memorial tree, which was planted for Shruti in the show.

But it did not exist, sparking months of conversations between Mr Kay and the London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust to bring it to fruition.

NHS staff tree planting ceremony
The Shruti tree is named after Shruti Acharya, a student doctor in Kay’s series who took her own life (Yui Mok/PA)

Prof Sir Stephen Powis, the national medical director of NHS England, said the memorial marked a “pledge for all of us” to prioritise mental health and “remember to be kind”.

“This now needs to be something that we focus on permanently within the NHS. We have momentum and we need to keep that momentum,” he said before picking up a spade to help plant the tree.

“It’s been an extraordinary effort (during the pandemic) but it’s absolutely taken its toll on people’s mental health, on wellbeing, people are exhausted and just looking for a break … everybody is longing in some way to get back to that normal, albeit it will be a new normal.”

Actress Ambika Mod, who starred as Shruti in the TV series, told PA it was “incredibly heart-warming and special” and the series had “blown all expectations out of the water”.

“I was so surprised to hear that people had been looking for the tree that was planted in the show, and I’m really glad there is now a place where they can come to pay their respects.”

Nearly as many patients presented to NHS Practitioner Health, a wellbeing service for doctors and dentists in England, between April 2020 and March 2021 as in the first 10 years of the service, the charity Doctors in Distress said.

Jennie Barnes, a mental health nurse from the Laura Hyde Foundation whose medical worker niece, Ms Hyde, took her life, said too many medics “see suicide as a way out”.

“We’re facing a new pandemic now of health staff with mental health problems,” she said, urging NHS leaders to add mental health champions to all boards and ensure staff can access 24-hour support helplines as staff shortages mount.