Skip Page Header

Home > Joint Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport Debate. Medical Bureau of Road Safety: discussion with chairman designate.

[Oireachtas] Joint Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport Debate. Medical Bureau of Road Safety: discussion with chairman designate. (20 Sep 2017)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/joint_...


Chairman: I welcome Dr. Declan Bedford, chairman designate of the Medical Bureau of Road Safety. I know Dr. Bedford in a previous capacity when we were both members of the North Eastern Health Board. Dr. Bedford was a man of great repute and an important member of the board who, in addition to having an interest in health matters generally, was also interested in public health, particularly alcohol and public health.

 

By virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their evidence to the committee. However, if they are directed by the committee to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and continue to so do, they are entitled thereafter only to qualified privilege in respect of their evidence. They are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise or make charges against a person, persons or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable.

 

Members are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the Houses or an official either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable. I invite Dr. Bedford to make his opening statement.

 

Dr. Declan Bedford: I am a specialist in public health medicine with a particular interest in alcohol and road safety. I am a medical graduate of University College Dublin. I worked as a specialist in public health medicine with the Health Service Executive, HSE, and acted as director of public health in the north east for seven years until my retirement from the HSE in August 2012. I am a fellow of the faculty of public health medicine of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. I have been involved in research for many years and my published research covers a wide range of public health topics, including suicide and mental health, alcohol, men's health, injury prevention, infectious diseases, health services and use of hospital services. I am employed part-time by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, RCSI, as health systems research development and adviser to the RCSI hospitals group. As a matter of interest, I will retire from this position at the end of this month.

 

I am a former member of the North Eastern Health Board and the board of the faculty of public health medicine. I was also a member of the drug treatment centre board and I am a board member of Alcohol Action Ireland. I have been a board member of the Medical Bureau of Road Safety for two years. Since December 2012, I have been the chairman of the Health Research Board, HRB, a statutory agency under the aegis of the Department of Health. We are the lead agency responsible for supporting and funding health research. We lead and support excellent research and generate relevant knowledge and promote its application in policy and practice. Our annual budget is approximately €50 million and at any one time we have close to €200 million allocated to ongoing research projects.

 

I am chairman of the working party on traffic medicine in the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, RCPI, as part of the national office for traffic medicine. Our office was jointly established by the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and Road Safety Authority of Ireland in 2011, bringing the specialty of traffic medicine to Ireland for the first time. Our goal is to help doctors and licensing authorities promote safe mobility. The term "traffic medicine" evolved to embrace all the disciplines, techniques and methods aimed at reducing the harm traffic crashes inflict on human beings. The best known element of traffic medicine is the need for medical certification showing fitness to drive. We publish guidelines on fitness to drive called Sláinte agus Tiomáint which are updated annually.

As chairman of the Medical Bureau of Road Safety, I will work to ensure the bureau continues to achieve its mission to provide a high-quality national forensic service in alcohol and drug detection in support of the effective operation of the road traffic legislation. I will work with the director and other board members to ensure we continue to review, on an ongoing basis, how we operate to ensure we comply with the new code of practice for the governance of State bodies introduced in August 2016.

 

I will work with the director and other board members to ensure we continue to implement our five-year strategic plan and objectives. These include continuing to provide a high-quality national forensic service in alcohol and drug analysis, the provision of bureau certificates and court assistance; maintaining the ISO 17025 accreditation status achieved for analytical programmes within the bureau and extending the accreditation to additional areas; adapting and incorporating into bureau activities any new legislation requirements; building up a forensic toxicology knowledge base within the bureau scientific staff; ensuring all the work in the bureau is maintained and improved, where possible, to a high standard of quality that is required of a national forensic laboratory in an efficient and cost-effective way; and maintaining effective management systems and operate within best accounting practices and frameworks.

 

[Click on this link for the full debate]

Repository Staff Only: item control page