Most research studies taking place in the NHS require a review by the NHS Research Ethics Committees (NHS RECs). NHS RECs are independent committees established under the umbrella of the National Research Ethics Service (NRES), part of the Health Research Authority (HRA).
REC review is required if a research project involves:
- potential research participants identified from, or because of, their past or present use of health and social care services
- potential research participants identified because of their status as relatives or carers from users of these services
- collection of tissue or information from users of these services
- use of previously collected tissue or information from which individual past or present users of these services could be identified
RECs are not expected to review:
- applications in respect of activities that are not research, for example clinical audit, service evaluation and public health surveillance
- research involving health and social care services staff, recruited by virtue of their professional role, except where it would otherwise require REC review
Applications for a review by RECs are submitted by the chief investigator on the national REC application form within the Integrated Research Application System (IRAS).