A GP who specialises in the protection of children and the prevention of domestic violence has spoken of her “huge amazement and disbelief” at being awarded a British Empire Medal in the New Year’s Honours list.
Dr Yen Andersen, 49, who has worked at the Oakwood Lane Medical Practice in Gipton since 2000, was honoured last week for “services to safeguarding children and prevention of domestic violence in North Leeds”.
I did not expect such an honour, because I think the work I do is simply my duty of care and my expected responsibility.Dr Yen Andersen
In 2012, the mother-of-two from Adel took up a GP with specialist interest role in safeguarding children, meaning she works with three clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to support local practices around the city.
She has been the domestic violence lead for Leeds CCGs since 2014, a role which sees her work with the Safer Leeds agency to raise awareness of issues relating to domestic violence.
The British Empire Medal, one of several New Year honours handed out to public servants, is awarded for providing a ‘hands-on’ service to the local community.
This could be a long-term charitable or voluntary activity or innovative work of a relatively short duration that has made a significant difference.
Dr Andersen said she was “very surprised” when the letter telling her about the medal arrived on November 24 from the Cabinet Office.
She said: “I did not expect such an honour, because I think the work I do is simply my duty of care and my expected responsibility. My immediate family was made privy to it.
“It has been hard to keep the secret especially when I work with great colleagues who support me in all sorts of ways, as I kept feeling like sharing this great news and appreciating them for their positive influence in my life.
“Work-life balance is constantly jeopardised by the demand arising from work I do, and I often feel guilty about that, and I recalled thinking, while I held the letter in my hand moments after I read its content with huge amazement and disbelief, that may be all the sacrifice the family experienced from my long working hours, in pursuit of getting the job done well, may be worth it because of the significance of this completely unexpected award.”
Dr Andersen was born in Mauritius and has lived in England since 1986 when she started at university.
Describing her work with the “hard-working, dedicated team” at the inner city Oakwood Lane practice, she said her safeguarding work “involves challenging complex caseloads by nature of the surgery’s deprivation index”.
She added: “Decision making is also not always black and white, professional judgement is required as a key skill.
“I require good interpersonal skill mixed with empathy to promote a good rapport with complex families. Some aspects of the work can be emotionally charged.”
She said that after taking on her safeguarding role in 2012, she “soon discovered I had a real passion for these issues, became eager to apply my acquired knowledge to improve care at the surgery, and had a growing aspiration to support other GPs in this challenging role they play”.
She added: “I have always taught my children the following principle that one should work hard not towards becoming personally successful but towards becoming significant, as working towards something that makes a difference to others would be a far greater reward.
“That has been the reason I have kept going in my pursuit when at times the going got hard. It is team work that makes the dream work. I thank everyone, families, friends and many colleagues who have been a part of why I have graciously been bestowed this award.”