National Programme Director for Joint RCPI-RSA Traffic Medicine Initiative appointed

Professor Des O’Neill has been appointed National Programme Director of the new Office for Traffic Medicine.

Professor Des O’Neill, Consultant Physician in Geriatric and Stroke Medicine at the Adelaide and Meath Hospital Dublin and Trinity College Dublin, has been appointed National Programme Director of the new Office forTraffic Medicine.

In this new role, Professor O’Neill will lead the development and implementation of a national framework on standards in traffic medicine in Ireland.

Traffic Medicine is a relatively new specialty that focuses on medical fitness-to-drive. A National Programme Office for Traffic Medicine was established by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI) in July 2011. Based in RCPI, its remit is to develop medical fitness-to-drive regulations and advise on public policy and communication strategies to promote an understanding of traffic medicine.

One of the first actions of the National Programme Office for Traffic Medicine was the establishment of the RCPI Working Group on Traffic Medicine, chaired by Dr Declan Whelan, Chief Medical Officer, Occupational Health Unit, CIÉ Medical Department. The Working Group on Traffic Medicine met for the first time on 5 December 2011 and includes representation from 34 organizations, including An Garda Síochána and the Irish Patients Association.

As National Programme Director for Traffic Medicine, Professor O’Neill is responsible for developing national medical fitness-to-drive guidelines and standards, including standard operating procedures, decision-support algorithms and performance metrics, and protocols on the management of complex and contentious medical cases. He will be working closely with other organisations to ensure exchange of information regarding licensing standards, medical treatments, and ethical and confidentiality issues.

Mr Noel Brett, CEO of the Road Safety Authority, said, “This is an important initiative and the RSA is delighted to be in partnership with RCPI in setting up the new Office for Traffic Medicine. For a driver, understanding the impact of an injury or a disease or the way certain medicines might affect driving is a vital aspect of road safety. The key objective is to promote and prolong safe driving by supporting medical practitioners and drivers in making decisions about medical fitness to drive. The new Office has an important role to play in raising awareness for both road users and medical professionals. I am delighted to welcome Professor O’Neill’s appointment and look forward to the contribution the Office makes to both road safety and driver mobility.”

Mr Leo Kearns, CEO of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, said, “I am pleased to welcome this collaboration between RCPI and the RSA. The Office for Traffic Medicine has an important remit, one that affects all road users in Ireland, and I look forward to seeing its contribution to road safety in Ireland.”

Following his appointment, Professor O’Neill said, “I am honoured to be able to lead this programme with the enthusiastic support of so many disciplines in Irish medicine and related fields. With the increase in the evidence-base in Traffic Medicine over recent years, the RCPI and RSA have an opportunity to develop not only clinician-friendly guidelines, but also a range of education and research initiatives to support the mobility and safety of Irish drivers.

For further information please contact

Aoife Ní Mhaitiú, Communications Executive
Royal College of Physicians of Ireland
Phone 01 8639 770, 085 850 0080