Meet the women of Nuffield Health - Dr Unnati Desai

In the lead up to International Women’s Day (8th March), we have interviewed some of the inspirational women working at Nuffield Health to discuss the challenges women face today and the women that inspired them

Name and role

Dr Unnati Desai, Medical Lead for Corporate Health, Medical Lead for Health Assessments, Dermatology Lead, GP

What is your role at Nuffield Health?

I am the Medical Lead for the corporate division and health assessment proposals. My role is split between clinical and non-clinical responsibilities. 

In my non-clinical capacity, I manage a number of corporate sites across London and the doctors who work there. I also support on projects within the health assessment provision, such as Personalised Assessment for Tailored Health (PATH) and the National Duty Doctor service.

I also continue to work as a GP one day a week across two of my corporate sites. 

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

I think it means different things to different people and I think its interpretation can be very different depending on which country you are in. 

For me, the day is more about recognition and achievements that women have made. However, there is still some way to go across the world. While I was born and raised in Britain, my family are Indian and I’m very aware of the struggle and discrimination women still suffer.

In my private practice, outside of Nuffield Health, I specialise in aesthetics. As part of this work I am involved in treating those who have been victims of acid attacks. It is a stark reminder of how women from certain countries or cultures are still considered to be second-class citizens, or property. 

International Women’s Day is an opportunity for me to reflect on how grateful I am to be where I am. We are lucky that Nuffield Health really do support gender equality, I feel that women across Nuffield Health are truly celebrated and are supported to grow within their profession. 

What do you think is the biggest challenge for women today and what has been your biggest challenge?

I think one of the biggest challenges facing women is maintaining their femininity and still being taken seriously in their careers. I think many women feel that they have to lose a part of their femininity, otherwise the social perception of their achievements is as a result of their looks instead of the merit of their work. This is a challenge we face from our society and social attitudes.

When I was setting up my private practise I was told by the landlord of the building I was looking to rent a room in that if I wanted to be successful, I should consider altering my appearance. I was upset by this for a while, but then reflected that I do not need to change who I am to do my job. I believe that my profession doesn’t define me, bout that I define my profession.

Which woman has inspired you and why?

I would have to say, Gabriella (Coco) Chanel. I watched a documentary about her and thought ‘what a woman’. While her name is world famous, not many people know the story of where she came from. She didn’t let adversity stop her and that’s what really resonated with me. The life she led, and business struggles she fought through remind me of setting up and running my private practise. 

She had tenacity, strength of character and didn’t let external barriers define her or external forces stop her. Every time I have a moment of doubt, hit a barrier or face a challenge, thinking about Gabriella helps me to persevere. 

Last updated Thursday 5 March 2020

First published on Wednesday 4 March 2020