Planting Memorial Trees with Adam Kay
Although I began one of my recent posts with the phrase ‘it is an honour’, it needs saying again. It is truly a privilege to work with leadership teams for whom the wellbeing of their workforce is a priority – not just lip-service, but a genuine focus on instilling compassion throughout their hospitals.

I realised that the hospitals where we have already planted a Memorial Tree in the last few weeks – Kingsway Hospital in Derby and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore – are already making workforce wellbeing key to the delivery of first-class care to their patients.

It is Adam’s vision that every single NHS Hospital Trust throughout England and Wales should commit to planting a tree which honours the memory of their colleagues who felt so isolated and alone that there seemed no option but to take their own lives. And, although, as Adam often says ’a tree is just a tree’, it is an astonishingly powerful metaphor. A tree planted into the ground is only going to grow and thrive if it is cared for with love and attention; it is a symbol of life and a very real reminder that we all have a role to play if the stigma still surrounding the mental health of health professionals, and the unacceptable fact of so many suicides, is ever to be properly addressed and removed.

As a former doctor, Adam Kay is able to empathise with the moral trauma that so many colleagues are facing and is devoting a good deal of his time to draw attention to the issue of suicide in the medical professions. At Doctors in Distress, we are working alongside him to encourage this ‘Memorial Tree Planting at NHS Hospital Trust’ to become a movement – a symbol of leadership teams which truly understand the pressure their people are under and which will continue to find real ways to relieve this pressure – both in their hospitals and also in their wider dealings with decision-makers across the NHS.

These are the people who can help us to achieve the transformational change that these trees symbolise.

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