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

For further information please contact
Aoife Ní Mhaitiú, Communications Executive
Royal College of Physicians of Ireland
Phone 01 8639 770, 085 850 0080

Brian Farrell, Communications Manager
Road Safety Authority Press Office
Phone 096 25008, 086 3881009

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.