NHS Research Ethics

Research requiring review by an NHS Research Ethics Committee

The Research Governance Framework for Health and Social Care states that independent ethical review is undertaken of all health and social care research.  Ethical approval must be obtained from an appropriate NHS Research Ethics Committee (REC) for any research proposal (including student projects) which involves:-

  • Patients and users of the NHS.  This includes all potential research participants recruited by virtue of the patient or user’s past or present treatment by, or use of, the NHS.  It includes NHS patients treated under contracts with private sector institutions;
  • individuals identified as potential research participants because of their status as relatives or carers of patients and users of the NHS, as defined above;
  • access to data, organs or other bodily material of past and present NHS patients;
  • fetal material and IVF involving NHS patients; and
  • the recently dead in NHS premises or facilities

The latest edition of Governance Arrangements for Research Ethics Committees: a harmonised edition (GafREC) comes into effect on 1 September 2011

One of the main revisions to GafREC is that research involving NHS staff or resources are no longer required to obtain NHS REC approval.  Although such projects will not require NHS REC approval since they involve human subjects/participation these projects will require ethics approval from one of the University's Ethical Review Panels (ERPs).  

If the research involves both NHS patient and NHS staff components the whole study can be reviewed by an NHS REC (please include information regarding both components in your NHS REC application).  However, if the research comprises of two separate studies then the patient study should be reviewed by an NHS REC and the staff study by a University ERP.

How to apply to an NHS Research Ethics Committee

Information regarding the application process for NHS Research Ethics Committee approval can be obtained via the following link: How to apply for an NHS REC.

Projects with ethical approval from an NHS Research Ethics Committee

If your project has received ethical approval from an NHS Ethics Committee please send a copy of your approval letter and completed University ethics application form (sections A, B and D) to Nicola Leighton, Research Governance Officer, Directorate of Engagement & Partnerships, iC2 Building, Keele University, ST5 5HN.