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Drinkaware independent review panel appointed

An Independent Review Panel has been appointed to conduct an independent audit of the activities and effectiveness of the Drinkaware Trust and to receive Drinkaware’s response to the audit recommendations.  The Panel has been established at the request of the Drinkaware trustees to fulfil the commitment in the founding Memorandum of Understanding and to ensure that the audit of the Trust’s effectiveness is conducted in a rigorous, inclusive and open manner and that the audit is completely independent.

The Panel will be chaired by Sir Hugh Taylor, Chairman of the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and former Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health.  The other Members of the Panel are:

• Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Liverpool, honorary consultant physician at the Royal Liverpool University Hospitals, and chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance

• Jeremy Beadles, corporate relations director, Heineken UK and former chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association

• Chris Heffer, deputy director alcohol and drugs, Department of Health

• Ben Page, chief executive, Ipsos MORI

The Panel will be able to seek other expert input as required.

The appointment of the Panel is an important part of the review of Drinkaware and its plans which is taking place this year.  Drinkaware was established at the beginning of 2007 as an independent alcohol education charity, funded by cash donations and in-kind support from all sectors of the alcohol industry – producers, the on-trade and the off-trade.  Its board of trustees consists of five members from the industry, five with a health or other professional interest in alcohol and three who have no professional interest in alcohol, including the chair.  It was the subject of an interim review in 2009, which resulted in wider commitments from the industry to fund the organisation and included a commitment to a more major audit and review in 2012.  Since then Drinkaware has achieved a high level of public awareness and its website now attracts over three million unique visitors a year.

The audit will evaluate Drinkaware’s effectiveness in meeting its original objectives, which were to increase awareness of alcohol harm, improve attitudes and positively change behaviour.  It will form a key input to the development of a strategy for the period to 2020 designed to contribute to progressive reductions in alcohol harm.

The initial task of the Panel will be to select auditors and approve their brief.  It will later review the audit report, interview the auditors, publish the report and receive Drinkaware’s response to the report’s recommendations.

The Chairman of the Panel, Sir Hugh Taylor, said: ‘This is a timely moment to carry out an independent audit of Drinkaware’s effectiveness.  The panel’s role is to provide assurance that the audit is comprehensive, takes on board the views of key stakeholders and other key experts and is properly independent; and I believe it is well constituted for that purpose. ‘

Derek Lewis, Chairman of Drinkaware, said: ‘The establishment of this independent Panel, whose members will bring wide experience and deep understanding of the issues involved, is evidence of the trustees’ commitment to ensuring that the current review is rigorous, inclusive and transparent.   The trustees are very grateful to the members for making their time available for this important task.’

• More information about the Panel


1 July 2012 - Felicity Murray