A Doctor from Harrow has been honoured with an OBE for her outstanding work in the field of occupational health (OH).
The New Year’s Honours List included Dr. Shriti Pattani for her significant contribution, recognising her as a leading authority by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Reflecting on the impact of workplace conditions on our health, Dr. Pattani remarked, “We spend the majority of our lives in the workplace but rarely think about its impact on our health.”
The doctor, initially caught off guard, almost missed the notification from the Cabinet Office. She opened the letter belatedly, prompting a same-day confirmation of her willingness to accept the award.
Recalling the moment, she shared, “It was a total surprise but I managed to keep it a secret until Xmas Day when my children were unwrapping their presents. I told the family I had some news, and they all looked slightly concerned. My son burst into tears; he was so happy, and I have had so many well-wishers contacting me since. It’s been quite humbling.”
Dr. Pattani’s journey into occupational health began during her tenure as a trainee GP, accompanying a colleague on weekly visits to a Weetabix factory. There, she recognized the absence of workplace health considerations in general medical assessments. She identified a common issue among Weetabix workers—back and neck pain resulting from repetitive movements.
Describing her work, Dr. Pattani explained, “It is interesting work because I have input into how to change both working practice and environment as well as assessing and supporting employees and employers.”
Her expertise is widely acknowledged, with WHO inviting her to speak at global events. A planned trip to Africa this year further underscores her international impact. Juggling multiple roles, Dr. Pattani serves as the trust’s clinical lead for occupational health and is the national lead on health and well-being for NHS England.
A recent highlight in her career, featured on BBC News, involves assisting the long-term sick back into work. The innovative care pathway, developed by Dr. Pattani, allows people referred by their GPs to access OH clinicians.
Drawing from her own experiences as a GP, she noted the need for time in addressing problems and finding practical solutions beneficial for both individuals and employers.
“It isn’t rocket science but you need time to get to the crux of the problem and find practical solutions that work for both the individual and their employer,” she stated.
The pilot program is gaining traction, aiming for government support and already establishing itself in primary care, along with musculoskeletal hubs in secondary care.
Dr. Pattani continues to make strides in the field, leaving an indelible mark on occupational health and well-being.