2012 News

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15 February 2012

Professor Des O’Neill appointed National Programme Director for Joint RCPI-RSA Traffic Medicine Initiative

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.”

About Professor Des O’Neill
Professor O’Neill graduated from Trinity College Dublin. He trained as a geriatrician in St James's Hospital and the University of Bristol. Following an appointment as consultant geriatrician in Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham he returned to Dublin and currently is the senior academic in Medical Gerontology at the TCD campus at the Adelaide and Meath Hospital in Tallaght.

His major field of research is that of transportation, ageing and older drivers. He co-chaired the RCPI Working Group on Driving and Health and has written chapters on driving and health for three international textbooks of geriatric medicine, two international textbooks of dementia care, two textbooks of medical ethics, and an Irish textbook of geriatric medicine. In addition, he was co-author of a major OECD report on transport in later life, and contributed to a similar report for the US Transportation Research Board.

About the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland

The mission of The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI) is to develop and maintain high professional standards in specialist medical practice in order to achieve optimum patient care and to promote health nationally and internationally. Through its Faculties and Committees, RCPI has responsibility for the postgraduate education and training of doctors in Ireland in twenty-five medical specialties.

RCPI is fully committed to playing a full and proactive part in the transformation of the health service, as evidenced by its involvement in many strategic initiatives with the Medical Council, the Health Service Executive, the Department of Health and Children, and other Irish postgraduate medical training bodies.



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